Although there’s something inherently admirable about Hannah Fidell’s semi-improvisational approach, 6 Years still feels highly derivative despite intended emotional authenticity and resonance. The film’s title refers to length of Dan (Ben Rosenfield) and Mel’s (Taissa Farmiga) relationship that, while once a model of romantic excellence, begins to spiral downward as the two drift unceremoniously apart. As the two struggle to reconcile amid instances of violence, temptation and impending career paths as burgeoning adults, the harsh realities of the fateful impermanence of love become more and more oppressive as time passes.
I’ve been known to laud the empathetic qualities of the so-called anti-romantic drama. I find the appeal of said films (i.e. Blue Valentine, Like Crazy) to be a byproduct of commendable realism in a sea of conventionally-rendered romcoms, most of which end with the guy getting the girl or visa versa. This isn’t a surprise to those that share my affinity for the subgenre, however Hannah Fidell’s contribution is wrought with overblown contrivances that detract from some agreeably excellent chemistry between two strong performers.
As said interplay remains far-and-away 6 Years‘ primary strength, the script’s spotlighting of its core relationship as a dire life necessity is its ultimate downfall. On one side of the spectrum it’s easy to gravitate toward this steadfastness of approach for involvement’s sake, what with Dan and Mel’s questionable future as a couple being the primary narrative impetus, but the fact that these individuals have nothing but each other is an ostensible falsehood. These individuals in fact have a lot going for each other, and frankly, if they just stopped leaving each other half-drunk and alone at parties the film wouldn’t really have a conflictual leg to stand on.
From what I experienced, 6 Years is hard-hitting but manipulative throughout its familiarly structured illustration of fleeting long-term romance. Its two leads are more than game and exhibit some of the best chemistry present within the growing annals of the anti-romantic drama, however the proceedings suffer from repeated instances of contrived conflict that could be easily avoided. When nearly every blowup is a result of conscious over-imbibing, you can’t help but expect the worst as the narrative falls into a pattern of endearing sweetness abruptly soured by what happens next.