The second film I have chosen to analyse is Six Years (2015) directed by Hannah Fidell. It is a romance / drama film about the relationship between the main characters Melanie Clark and Dan Mercer, a young couple who have a strong relationship until things turn sour and Melanie becomes violent towards Dan. This film is different than most as the abusive character is the female when the male character is often portrayed as the abuser.
The film starts with a sex scene, introducing the audience to the main characters whilst the title is layered over the scene.
A montage is used to show the couple, Mel and Dan, with their group of friends doing different activities. The montage has been used to show that the couple are happy and doing things that young people typically do, showing that they are an average couple. The first shot in the montage is a close up and shows the male character Dan giving Mel a piggyback ride, a close up is used to show the characters facial expressions which shows they are happy. Their other friends are in the background and are out of focus, once again showing the audience that they are the main characters.
The montage ends with a party scene, where Dan leaves before his girlfriend, who is shown talking to a friend and says that she and Dan have been together for six years, this is the titular sentence. Mel (the girlfriend) then decides to drive to Dan’s house drunk, which he berates her for as he thinks she has been reckless. The couples argument is shown in close ups of each person as they speak, so that the audience can see their facial expressions and understand the characters emotions.
Mel then tries to leave, and gets angrier the more Dan tries to speak to her. She turns and pushes Dan aggressively, who falls backwards and hits his head. Although this could come across as an accident to the audience because of the fact that Mel is drunk, to me it seems that she meant to injure Dan in a moment of anger and aggression.
Close up shots are used in the next scene, where a nurse comes in to release Dan and asks how the injury happened. He hesitates before answering and looks nervous before looking down at Mel and then back up at the nurse, saying he tripped and fell on his dresser. Victims of domestic abuse often try to hide their injuries and lie about how they got them, looking at their partner before answering is usually done out of nervousness as the abuser will want to make sure they lie. It is interesting that these techniques have been used in this scene as it displays the dynamics of an abusive relationship, which is what the relationship between the couple becomes later in the film. This could have been used as a subtle hint to the audience. This idea is interesting and something I would have liked to have used in my own film if it was longer and had a similar scene.
The next scene I have looked at is a conversation between Dan and a co – worker, where she points out that it would be a different story if Mel was the one with the injury. The fact that the abuse is inflicted on a male character instead of a female character is why the film is interesting because it is a different dynamic as abuse is often inflicted upon women and many films and TV shows have used this trope.
Another scene like this one is shown later on in the film, where the couple (Dan and Mel) have had a physical fight after Mel finds out Dan has kissed his co – worker. In the scene Dan is shown trying to restrain Mel by holding her down, the police are called and the situation is misread as the police detain Dan whilst Mel watches.
The next scene I have chosen to look at is near the end of the film and it shows another example of physical violence between the couple. In this scene Mel has caught Dan sleeping with his co – worker and they begin to argue, which is shown in close ups. Both characters become violent, with Dan attempting to punch Mel (shown in a close up) before punching the wall next to her head and Mel pushing Dan into a pile of broken glass, a close up is then used to show his foot which is bleeding.
In conclusion, Six Years was a good film to analyse as it portrayed an abusive relationship between a young couple which is what my own short film is about. It gave me some ideas on what dialogue I could use for the main characters of my film, the facial expressions and the emotions they would convey and the different shots I could use. However I wasn’t able to find much inspiration for my narrative or how the abuse could be shown as the idea for my own film is very different from how it is shown in Six Years. The characters are also very different than what I would like my characters to be like, my victim character will be timid and run down by the abuse, whereas in Six Years the male character is the victim in the beginning however as the film progresses the relationship becomes toxic and both characters are aggressive towards each other.