The cracks in three fortyish couples’ marriages threaten to become chasms in debuting feature writer-helmer Joseph Infantolino’s “Helena From the Wedding.” This is the kind of single-location indie talkfest that could translate to the stage without much tweaking. But pacing is brisk, and perfs and writing sharp enough to engage throughout. U.S./Canada distrib Film Movement plans a New York theatrical launch Nov. 16, simultaneous with VOD release.

Relative newlyweds Alex (Lee Tergesen) and Alice (Melanie Lynskey) have invited some close friends to their country home for New Year’s, perhaps partly to distract from unspoken tensions mostly arising from his career crisis (a play he’d written just flopped).

Things are more conspicuously tense between unemployed Don (Dominic Fumusa) and ruthless lawyer Lynn (Jessica Hecht); Lynn lays into him mercilessly, especially after a few drinks, though their make-up sex is loud enough to wake the dead.

Arriving late, heavily pregnant Eve (Dagmara Dominczyk) and brash jock Steven (Corey Stoll) also seem to be experiencing communication issues. They’ve brought along beautiful younger model Helena (Gillian Jacobs), who draws the attention of the sole bachelor present, the recently dumped Nick (Paul Fitzgerald), as well as — rather awkwardly — a besotted Alex.

Over the course of the weekend, the action threatens to sink the various relationships for good, though they prove more resilient than one might expect.

Despite the often comic tenor, Infantolino (who used his own upstate New York house as location) and his cast resist cheap laughs or caricature. Modest but decent assembly is dependent on closeups, which will play best in home formats.

Helena From the Wedding

  • Production: A Film Movement (in U.S./Canada) release of a Cerca Trova presentation of a Beech Hill Films production. (Internationals sales: Traction Media, Beverly Hills.) Produced by Alexa L. Fogel, Brendan Mason. Directed, written by Joseph Infantolino.
  • Crew: Camera (color, HD), Stephen Kazmierski; editor, Jennifer Lilly; music, Doug Bernheim; production designer, John Bonafede; set decorator, Sara Paterno; costume designer, Natasha Noorvash; sound, Micah Bloomberg; sound designer, Quentin Chiapetta; casting, Suzanne Smith Crowley, Jessica Kelly. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (competing), Aug. 31, 2010. (Also in SXSW Film Festival.) Running time: 99 MIN.
  • With: With: Dagmara Dominczyk, Paul Fitzgerald, Dominic Fumusa, Jessica Hecht, Gillian Jacobs, Melanie Lynskey, Corey Stoll, Lee Tergesen.
  • Music By: