Review: 6 YEARS Succeeds Wildly In Exploring A Precarious Relationship

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Review: 6 YEARS Succeeds Wildly In Exploring A Precarious Relationship

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. As 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.

Review originally published during SXSW in March 2015. As of today, the film is available to watch via various Video On Demand platforms.

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Ben RosenfieldHannah FidellLindsay BurdgeTaissa FarmigaJoshua LeonardDramaRomance

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