A dead-end street as viewing experiences go, “Fairfield Road” approximates a movie-length Pepperidge Farm ad — with all of the gooey sweetness, and less depth. Jesse Metcalf (“Desperate Housewives”) stars as an ambitious young political operative who stumbles onto and finds purpose in an idyllic Cape Cod town, after losing his job and girlfriend in short order. Fortunately, this is the Hallmark Channel, meaning each closed door throws opens a new one with shocking alacrity, allowing for tidy endings, however sappy they might be.
Metcalf’s Noah McManus is employed by Boston’s mayor and about to shift to the big-time working for a U.S. senator when, alas, everything goes kablooey. Still, there’s that little matter of retrieving the engagement ring he had shipped to a bed-and-breakfast in the town of Harpswell, and since the package didn’t arrive on time, he might as well spend the night.
“You’re right where you need to be,” a cheery local tells a lost Noah before he turns onto Fairfield Road, which, in Tracy Rosen’s script, passes for clever foreshadowing.
Soon enough, Noah is being reluctantly drawn into a battle to help the kindly inn owner (Derek McGrath) save the town from an unscrupulous developer (Brandon Firla). In the process, Noah also begins exchanging longing looks with a local bookstore owner (Natalie Lisinska), who, like all women in these scenarios, is apparently ready to fall for the next ambulatory guy who wanders into her shop.
Even allowing for the fact there’s a formula to these movies, “Fairfield Road” gets to its destination by way of several hackneyed shortcuts, starting with its fuzzy image of small-town America. There’s nothing wrong with warmth, per se, but the movie simply doesn’t earn it — perhaps because Metcalf’s emotional journey is so rushed and unconvincing.
So while Noah avoids taking a wrong turn, those who find their way to “Fairfield Road” won’t be quite so lucky.