Krasnoff/Foster Entertainment; Bosque Ranch Productions; 101 Studios; MTV Entertainment Studios

A motion picture debuting this month on Paramount Plus, and likely on other streamers too, is the finest kind of indie. It feels like a love letter to our region, and in particular to the independent fishermen of New Bedford, where it takes place.

FINESTKIND is the name of a vessel that plays a huge role in the lives of generations from one fishing family. It’s also a sort of New Bedford-only slang. The etymology of the phrase eludes our central character, a college boy roughing it as a new fisherman. Toby Wallace’s Charley is, pardon the pun, the typical fish-out-of-water character who acts as an audience surrogate to introduce us to the quirky, insular community of independent fishermen and their trade.


More resonant in many ways are the performances by Ben Foster as Tom and Tommy Lee Jones as Ben, both seasoned, life-long fishermen who bring a gravitas to their roles so profound you can almost taste the salt in the air around them. They bring to life the men of the sea who are a vanishing breed in the modern world, and capturing that culture is what filmmaker Brian Helgeland, who grew up among these uniquely New Bedford characters, is most interested in capturing. Despite potent star turns by Tommy Lee Jones and Jenna Ortega, the film is smaller in scope and far more intimate than other Helgeland projects (LA Confidential, A Knight’s Tale) and his respect for the material comes through solemnly.

The dramatic momentum comes from a pretty standard, “We really need money so we’re going to smuggle drugs for the wrong people,” plot that holds a few surprises but will mostly feel very familiar. But that’s not at all what this film is about. It comes alive in simple scenes, where Charley is learning exactly how the sailing, fishing and cleaning is done, or where the stoic is just sailing along, or kicking back casually at a dive bar, after almost dying at sea. These scenes and moments exist for themselves, snapshots of a way of life that is rapidly evaporating. They break screenwriting rules that demand action from every scene, but they are the reason to watch FINESTKIND, and they leave a lasting impression.