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‘6 Years’ Review: A Young Love Story That Doesn’t Ring True – Variety

6 years movie review

Having explored an illicit relationship between a high school teacher and a student in “a teacher,” writer-director hannah fidell focuses on a doomed relationship of a rather more mundane (albeit film-appropriate) kind. age) to “6 years.” Although shot and performed in a decidedly raw and naturalistic register, this emotionally disturbing portrait of two Texan sweethearts in their twenties often veers into melodramatic exaggeration, inspiring little empathy or understanding despite committed performances from up-and-coming young leads Taissa Farmiga and ben rosenfield. Backing from executive producers Mark and Jay Duplass will turn heads, but not enough to distinguish this low-budget effort in the independent market.

One night, Mel (Farmiga) staggers home drunk from a party and wakes up her boyfriend, Dan (Rosenfield), and their groggy banter suddenly explodes into an argument; The ensuing fight leaves Dan with a lump on his head and Mel horrified and apologetic. they quickly reconcile, but the incident heralds even more complicated times for two people who have been together for six years, a milestone that seems to inspire more disbelief than respect among their friends and acquaintances. We learn that these Austinites have known each other for most of their lives, but their steadfast devotion to each other is beginning to give way to growing dissatisfaction and uncertainty, especially as they are just beginning to figure out what they want to do with themselves. : Dan is an intern at a record label, while Mel is an aspiring school teacher.

Initially it seems to be a mere matter of them really not liking each other’s friends, although it’s hard to see why, given that dan, mel and their respective circles don’t seem to have too many unique interests beyond hanging out, getting drunk and talking about sex with the kind of forced candor that feels more like a screenwriter’s affectation than anything else. Something similar could be said of the moment when Dan, alone at a party, impulsively kisses his flirtatious co-worker Amanda (Lindsay Burge, “a teacher”), a mistake that will have surprisingly unpleasant consequences for him and Mel, including a A night spent in jail, a bitter breakup, a narrowly averted crisis, an impulsive betrayal, and several more angry and harrowing confrontations. All of this heightened turmoil coincides with the arrival of an unexpected job opportunity outside of Austin for Dan, a development plausible enough that, under less contrived circumstances, it would have been more than enough to lead the characters to a thoughtful and poignant reconsideration of their lives. relationship. .

Fidell likes to launch the viewer right into the action. Just as “A Teacher” began with their taboo relationship well advanced, “6 Years” continues near the end of its eponymous time frame: Avoiding memories of happier times for Mel and Dan, the script employs brief snippets of exposition to fill in the gaps. necessary background. It’s a ragged, streamlined approach, especially when compared to the fuller storytelling of similarly themed dramas like “Blue Valentine,” “Like Crazy,” and “The Disappearing of Eleanor Rigby,” and with appropriate finesse, this svelte the role of 80 Minutes might well have struck an impressive balance between narrative economy and forward momentum.

but “6 year olds” just don’t have the ability to do more with less. scene after scene, the writing continually hits awkward notes; even a simple sequence in which dan discusses his future with his mother (dana wheeler-nicholson), who worries that he may be putting his career on hold for the sake of his girlfriend, seems too much. half obvious. Meanwhile, Mel’s family is briefly mentioned but left off-screen, adding to the sense of a story missing a crucial element of context; there is too little insight into the past and too much overheated angst in the present.

Farmiga and Rosenfield (“One More Violent Year”) achieve some of their most natural and poignant moments early on, as Dan and Mel bask in the glow of their affection still intact or nervously discuss the possibility of using porn to give her life to your sex life. Throughout, the actors are always believable as young lovers who slowly realize they may have gotten engaged too soon, and “6 Years” is somewhat poignant because of the tension between the lives Mel and Dan have long imagined for themselves. themselves and the possibilities they never thought of. consider. however, to really dramatize that tension would require a more delicate touch than is shown here.

farmiga, as luminous and expressive as her older sister vera, is a galvanic presence on screen even when reduced to repeating soap opera lines like “how could you do this to me?” But at a certain point, she and Rosenfield seem to be jumping narrative hurdles rather than persuasively inhabiting their characters’ emotional turmoil, and Dan and Mel aren’t well-defined enough to stand out against the film’s all-too-familiar background of booze, lust. and poor decision making. Andrew Droz Palermo’s portable widescreen lens of moody and low-key austin locations gives the drama an appropriately rough and uneven texture, but even within the unadorned aesthetic, the editing options tend toward the too abrupt (nothing more than the final cut to black), particularly when juxtaposed with the jarring eruptions of upbeat music on the soundtrack.

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