SXSW 2015 Review: 6 YEARS And The Undeniable Intimacy

Editor, Festivals; Los Angeles, California (@RylandAldrich)
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SXSW 2015 Review: 6 YEARS And The Undeniable Intimacy

Young love can be so damn difficult.

This is the fertile soil tilled in Hannah Fidell's 6 Years, the follow up to her critically acclaimed debut feature A Teacher. Like in that film, Fidell employs a distinctly naturalistic filmmaking style to explore tense emotional territory. Also like her first film, 6 Years succeeds wildly in bringing the audience inside the relationship and taking us on bumpy, emotion-filled journey.

6 Years introduces us to Mel (Taissa Farmiga) and Dan (Ben Rosenfield), a young couple on the verge of finishing college while enjoying the titular sixth year of their relationship. Things have been mostly swell for the two, though occasional nights of too much drinking have been known to cause a bit of strain. The accumulation of that strain is coupled with both Dan's approaching graduation (Mel being a year younger) and a constant pressure from Mel's friends to 'try someone new.' This all adds up to a somewhat precarious balance for the pair who may be very much in love -- but more importantly, are still very young.

This balance is thrown even further out of whack when an attractive coworker Amanda (A Teacher's Lindsay Burdge) at the record label where Dan interns starts to take in interest in Dan's career. With prospects of a full time job that might take him away from his college town, as well as early 20s hormones flaring for this older woman, Dan's ability to forgive Mel's drunken antics are put to the test.

Deceivingly plot heavy, 6 Years is very much about the emotional journeys of Mel and Dan and less focused on any single events or their outcomes. Much to its benefit, the film is more concerned with exploring the concept that love is messy than it is with playing adjudicator to relationship crimes. It's this more personal focus that brings an intimate connection between the film and audience and gives 6 Years its remarkable sense of authenticity.

Both because of its hand held aesthetic and emotional subject matter, an obvious comparison to 6 Years is Drake Doremus's Like Crazy (it also doesn't hurt that Rosenfield and Anton Yelchin could have been separated at birth). Similar to Like Crazy, this film soars on the wonderful performances by its lead actors (including the always excellent Burdge). Minimalist in its production design and cinematography, the film may feel a bit rough around the edges, but this adds to the naturalism and allows the focus to fall more squarely on the actors' capable shoulders.

An indie drama through and through, Fidell has again succeeded in telling a tiny story and making it feel as big as the world. Her connection to these characters is infectious and impossible to ignore. It may be an emotional roller coaster, but it is real, and the intimacy is undeniable.

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Ben RosenfieldHannah FidellLindsay BurdgeTaissa FarmigaJoshua LeonardDramaRomance

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Dean CainMarch 16, 2015 11:53 PM

'Acclaimed debut'?? A Teacher?? If you liked it then claim it. But don't try to bullshit others of its relevance.

Martin WagnerMarch 19, 2015 10:23 PM

What are you talking about? The reviewer simply points out that the earlier movie got good reviews.

Dean CainMarch 25, 2015 12:43 AM

Perhaps that came off a little abrasive. By your argument a film may be described as having 'critical acclaim' if it has a few positive reviews. I disagree. I would argue that 'critical acclaim' is to be universally praised and lauded by most. A Teacher was not.

Martin WagnerMarch 25, 2015 1:14 AM

I don't think you'll find many films at all that have been *universally* praised. But if enough respected and influential critics think highly of a particular film, I think it can legitimately be called critically acclaimed.