6 Years (2016, written and directed by Hannah Fidell)
[17 of 52 in #52FilmsByWomen]
As per the title, this is a story about a couple in their sixth year of their relationship. But unlike most stories which explore the Seven Year Itch of couples in their 30s or 40s, this film is about a young couple in their mid-twenties.
The young couple we follow in this movie is Melanie and Ben, who have been together since their high school days, and we meet them about halfway through their university education. By any measure, they are indeed a very happy couple, played with amazing chemistry by Taissa Farmiga and Dan Mercer. Though as things tend to happen to almost all of us, the realities of life starts to pull them apart. Like Summer said in 500 Days of Summer, ‘life happens’.
Mel is studying to be a pre-school teacher, while Dan is on internship working for a music production company. Since Dan is trying hard to secure a job in that company, he’s been spending more time with the people there, and that’s where he starts to drift away from Mel.
Plot-wise, that’s about all that could be said about the movie. The main focus of the film is the small things, the little interactions between Dan and Mel, their quarrels, and their life apart from each other versus the confrontations they have when they’re together. This is indeed how most relationships blossom and fall apart. Their growth and decay can never be conveyed by big events and scenes easily expressed by a massive narrative push. But rather it’s the small things like their voices, gestures, looks that slowly seeps in until a certain realisation occurs. This probably happens to many relationships, whether they are failed or happy ones. And this movie captures this nicely.
Also, throughout the movie, we see that Mel and Dan are very clearly in love with one another, and despite everything, they do want to stay together. In this sense the comparison to the ‘seven year itch’ is probably unfair, since the latter suggests that one or both of them are bored, or getting restless in the relationship.
Instead, what we see here is a young couple’s naive picture of a happy relationship slowly gets stripped down by the realities of life. Life happens, sure. But when you’re in your mid-twenties, it doesn’t just happen. It abruptly smashes into you and threaten to change things forever while you struggle to keep things the way it was.