|Index||9 reviews in total|
I have to admit that I'm not often pulled in to character-driven
movies. I'm afraid I might be a victim of the fast-paced,
constant-stimulation environment that technology has created for us.
But this movie got to me. I'm from New England and the vibe and the
characters were so accurate, and the story was so engrossing that I
felt like I was a part of the movie. The other reviewer put it well
when she wrote, "it wasn't like I was watching a movie, it was like I
was watching life."
I felt like I knew the characters, and I was left with the feeling of wanting another "episode." I actually think the movie would make a great premise for a dramatic television show, and I would definitely be a weekly viewer. I'm looking forward to nationwide release of the movie so that I can share it with my friends.
How can I see this movie again? I saw Fairhaven at the Tribeca Film Festival and loved it. I was moved by its beautiful cinematography and flawed characters-- you end up relating to almost every character in the film. We need more character driven films! Fairhaven is story about friendship but addresses so many other issues at the same time. I loved it's documentary style filming --kind of reminded me of Friday Night Lights. It wasn't like watching people act, it was like watching people live. Rich Somer was fantastic-- his character was so sweet and vulnerable. Chris Messina was perfect as the asshole with a good heart...and Tom O'brien's character made the film--soul searching while he actually has everything right in front of him all along. Seriously folks, how can I see this movie again?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw Fairhaven the Movie at the Provincetown film festival's closing night's screening and I've been replaying portions in my mind for a week now. The film's lure for me is both personal and aesthetic since I'm a town native though I live here only part time. I was piqued by the film's premise once I heard of its creation and looked forward to viewing an outsider's take on my hometown. I never expected, however, to be so affected by a break out piece that was filmed in 18 days on a shoestring budget during a snowy, frozen January. The film is a powerful depiction of the complicated love/hate relationships engendered by small town life. Its treatment of the universal themes of friendship, family, love and personal fulfillment are told through characters who eerily ring true. I may be a generation away from them, and the details may differ, but I recognize those characters and their situations because they resemble people who walk the streets of Fairhaven every day. These are people I know. There is a duality to life here; contrasts and contradictions reign supreme. Like Jon, the townspeople have dreams that are fed by a strong sense of history and a place that can be wistfully romantic (a harbor that has been full of ships and of men who have sailed "away" for hundreds of years for example) yet are starved by limited opportunities or the brutal reality of jobs in the fishing or maritime industries. The lure of the outside world versus the cocoon of small town life creates a recurring struggle for many. My dad went to sea as an officer with the Merchant Marine for forty years. My mother's two brothers were commercial fisherman. One uncle was lost in Newport harbor in 1979 and his name is on a plaque at the Seaman's Bethel in New Bedford. As a young girl imbued with the history of this area, I never dreamed I'd have an uncle whose name would appear on the plaques that Herman Melville writes of in Moby Dick. Whenever I visit the Bethel with visitors, I feel an odd clash of literary and real life and it's very disturbing. Until that incident, I assumed my dad and my uncles would always return home to Fairhaven. Many in this area experience its pain as well as its beauty in both a historical and modern tear of the heart. This film has that Fairhaven psyche down pat. Like Sam, Dave and Kate, people become embroiled in romantic relationships that overlap each other. Secrets become necessities in a small town, seemingly archaic in this time of facebook and confessional openness, but necessities nonetheless. In the Fairhaven I know, everyone has secrets; everyone has ghosts. And if those secrets are revealed, all hell breaks loose. The clash between Jon and Dave (Chris Messina's character who reluctantly returns home for his estranged father's funeral) shows the irony of complicated relationships that can threaten to destroy yet buoy oneself at the same time. Dave's self-destructive edginess serves to crystallize Jon's pathway. The contrast between Dave's darkness/self-banishment and the lightness of a nurturing connected community rings true. Because it is a seafaring town, the pull of home is, indeed, a strong one here. Personal histories can cause one either to root to the place or to yank oneself away. There is a palpable conflict between those of us who have remained and those who have "gotten away." And there are many of us who got away only to pine for the place each day we are gone and who never feel so right as we do at home in Fairhaven. It is a special place. This film gets that. The performance by the cast in their portrayal of these realistic characters is exemplary. Chris Messina, Tom O'Brien, Sarah Paulson, Rich Sommer et al are truly gems of the industry. The acting is often naturally understated. Early in the film, when Kate's ex-husband Sam states, "Dave's back in town," Sarah Paulsen's character simply replies, "Oh yeah?" but her hesitation, nervous gulp and tight smile imply a personal history there that hints of things to come. Maryann Plunkett's warm and down to earth portrayal as Jon's mum is reminiscent of the open friendliness that pervades the real Fairhaven. Rich Sommer's Sam has the sweet good guy nailed. Naively positive in the wake of heartbreak, denying himself while struggling to raise his daughter, he is conceivably the most mature of them all. Peter Simonite's cinematography is superb; it's the vehicle that reveals Fairhaven the town as a character in its own right. Shots of the harbor at night for example, and the frozen low tide to Angelica Rock at Wilbur's Point illuminate the duplicity of the place-its haunting beauty compromised by the freezing weather. I loved the Lincoln Park inclusion (especially since it's being torn down as I write-the film immortalized it for us). It's a poignant metaphor. I love that they end up partying on a commercial boat (so scary to walk those boards to the deck at night in the middle of the winter) even though not many people (okay probably no one) would have motored out into the harbor (too costly and dangerous at night with someone's livelihood). Boats are often the post "last call" party spots and play a large role in peoples' lives here. But what I love most of all about the film is that there's not a tidy wrap-there are stores of unfinished business-just as there is in real life. Yet in the wake of that-friendships endure. In the film just as in real life, we politely ignore the layers of back stories and continue to interact and relate to each other because we have a history or because we love each other or because we have no choice, but we do it most of all, because, in such a small compelling town-we simply need each other.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
You know, it isn't easy to make a good movie. To begin with, I believe
you need a good script. That is to say, in my mind at least, the story
has to be complete. You can have great acting, great direction, great
film making and yet, because of the script itself, it's literary
values, the film isn't complete. The story isn't complete.
That is the case with this movie. (Spoiler Alert) Two of three main characters are released, so to speak, from their torment. The third character, the one played by Messina: we don't really know what happens to him. He goes back into the oblivion.
These are my film aesthetics: the viewers need to have the complete story. It's fine if a character doesn't come to terms with his life, but we want to know how. Messina's character has screwed up his life. He's run away from a tough situation with a woman he loved and he has refused to understand his parents. His girl has found another guy. His life has been emptied out. But the movie leaves him pretty much where it found him, except now he most likely knows he has screwed up. It's not enough.
I obviously hate it when filmmakers leave things hanging. I really believe there's a laziness to it. If they can't complete the story they shouldn't make the film.
Watching FAIRHAVEN was everything I love about Tom O'Brian's theatrical plays come to life a million times over with all of the elements fitting together: lovely shots, poetic scenery, authentic acting, heartfelt pacing and musical score combined to remind me of what acting coach Wynn Handman would refer to as "a perfect pitch and tone". Tom's character was an endearing, curious, mysterious and fun protagonist. I understand what he means about Tom Brady! I love the story and how the film captures the way that we are all ever unraveling from, entwining in and learning from the events in our lives. We were riveted and while I knew it would be great, I was so excited and surprised by how great. My boyfriend watched in silence the whole time and when it was over he said, "that was impeccable perfect". He said he loved it and wants to watch it again. We were both moved. I have been spending more time this past year in my hometown than I have spent in 26 years... I related so much to the relationships, internal and external landscapes and the heartbreaking beauty of watching life expand all of us no matter where we stay or travel to. Movie made with excellence!
This was a surprisingly good movie. I'm not going to try and write a
"pro" review. I'm simply sharing my opinion, and I'm a person who has
seen A LOT of movies, and has studied fine art...so:
The cinematography is amazing. It's like the color version of The Night of the Hunter. I grew up in the Northeast on the water so it really hit home. It added a genuine romance to the homes and common sceneries you walk by everyday and never look at or imagine in the way it was presented in this film. It's almost like an old chair you have in your back yard that a photographer makes look like it belongs on the cover of a travel magazine.
The story is pretty hard hitting and well told. That said, however, the characters take too long to blossom as well and suddenly it gets cut really short. In other words, just as I was starting to get into the story...it ended.
So for me that was the downside. Otherwise this definitely gets a WATCH. It's quite good.
As a resident of the town this movie is named for I wasn't sure what to
expect, other than recognizing the local scenery. What I got was a
beautifully told tale of what it means to be a man in the Peter Pan
world we live in. I could not take my eyes off the screen or the
actors' amazingly understated performances. It is a quiet film, and if
you don't look carefully or with the right kind of eyes you may think
nothing much is happening. However, if you are a man on the wrong side
of 30 and there is nothing left of childhood but memories then you will
be hit with every possible emotion watching these three guys over the
course of a few days.
If you have ever struggled with your dreams of youth maybe never being fulfilled, or with what it means to be a father, or if you have ever hurt the one you love the most because you knew they were better off without the mess you are...I could go on and on. I related with all three of the main characters so much. Also, for a movie about men made by men it must be stated that the women in this movie are all lovely and multi dimensional. I think it is easy to forget about women, or make them window dressing in such a film, but all of the best scenes in the film involve the strong male facade gently cracking under the gaze of the fairer sex.
I will just say that the film is honest and true and that is all you can ever hope for in any work of art. Maybe it was simply a case of me being in a certain place, looking with certain eyes that made me connect so strongly but this film stayed with me a long, long time afterwords. Buy this film. Rent this film on iTunes. Support this type of work because I want to see more films like this. A quiet film with purpose. We deserve it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jon, a former high school football star returns home to the small
fishing village of Fairhaven, Massachusetts. He was an arrogant,
useless jerk in high school, and returns a failed, arrogant, useless
We start with layer upon layer of cliché. Will there be any evolution, or is this just another fouled up, self-regarding 'feel bad comedy'?
Dave is back from Arizona to talk to old friends and catch up with his mother.
Jon is trying to get into something new, perhaps writing. He arranges to quit his fishing job as soon as he can find a replacement. He's in two kinds of therapy.
The obligatory drunken barroom and getting high scenes are just as boring as one might expect. Jon, Dave, and Sam are not any better at it than any one else.
Sam has stayed in Fairhaven (as opposed to Jon and Dave), has gotten married, had a daughter, got a divorce, and dealt with the break up. Nobody seems to be any happier than anyone else.
The funeral for Dave's father was nicely awkward.
The ending was flat, rather like the rest of the film.
Cinematography: 10/10 Exceptionally lovely shooting, especially the exteriors. Depth of field is shallow for the interiors to isolate the character to focus on, showing a nice level of control. Framing and color saturation are great.
Sound: 8/10 Occasionally the music was blaring.
Acting: 4/10 The performances are all too often from the 'smile, show how cool you are' school of non-involvement. Boring, non-engaging.
Screenplay: 4/10 Stupid premise, bad execution, boring; not aided by immature actors.
FAIRHAVEN is a quiet film that packs an emotional punch. Tom O'Brien does an amazing job writing and directing beautifully authentic scenes between people we all can relate to. Chris Messina can always be depended upon to deliver a scene-stealing performance (I loved him in Julie and Julia and Vicky Cristina Barcelona), however in this case his co-actors Sarah Paulson, Rich Sommer, Maryann Plunkett, and Phyllis Kay, are all so talented, they give him a run for his money. Lovely, wide shots of the melancholy Connecticut seacoast abound and the setting almost becomes a secondary character. This is a sleeper gem that's well worth watching. We have not seen the last of the talented (and handsome) O'Brien.
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