Film Review: 6 MONTH RULE

6 Month Rule proves that however tried and true (or perhaps tired) the romantic comedy is in today’s cinematic culture, there’s still plenty of room for the small indie to carve out a niche as long as it has something to say. Written, directed, and lead by character actor Blayne Weaver, this comfortable feature has been hitting the festival circuit as of late, with a most recent stop at the Austin Film Festival. While not groundbreaking in a Charlie Kaufman-esque fashion, Rule does understand and rely upon independent film’s best friends: script and actor. Weaver himself plays Tyler Watts, a narcissistic commercial photographer whose dreams of artistic glory have been supplanted with aesthetically soul-crushing (but well-paid) hamburger glamour shots for a local chain’s ads. However, quite the looker with a silver tongue, Tyler has made his bones with woman by relying on his talents.

Moreover, to avoid the messiness of commitment he has mastered any and all means of excuse, as evidence by the opening montage of a succession of engineered breakups. Our protagonist though has little need to worry about the emotional ramifications of these splits though as it is his steadfast belief that any man can overcome feelings of guilt or remorse from a breakup in six whole months – if his personal rules are followed. The lothario’s assuredness is challenged though when he meets Sophie (Natalie Morales), a local artist with mysterious past who is able to pierce Tyler’s shell by poking holes in its managed surface to his face. Engaged by her confidence, beauty, and intelligence, he becomes deeply smitten.

However, this crush must stay on hold as his opportunity to grow career finally arrives in the form of Julian (Patrick J. Adams), a hipster rockstar on the rise who is floored by Tyler’s previous work and hires him for a spread in the latest, greatest culture magazine on the scene. All the while, Ty must console his best friend Alan (Martin Starr), who has been ripped asunder by being dumped by his fiancé and losing his place simultaneously. Juggling potential love, career aspirations, and emotional triage proves to be too much for our protagonist eventually as these various plot threads begin intertwining in various pleasing and disappointing ways.

For a triple threat on this production, Weaver shows game by easily crafting a slick, professional, visual presentation and endearing performance as a man who is by turns lovable and hate able, often within the same scene. The main fault may lie in his writing though as aspects of his personal philosophy, a story element that should justify his behavior to the audience is often murkily explained. The whole 6 month rule concept is rarely delved into as are his various other rules which, though fairly mentioned when absolutely needed, could have used at least one quick scene to fully delineate his specific worldview. For an example of a similar film that does this very thing, check out The Tao of Steve, which 6 Month Rule is a worthy cousin to thematically. Story clarity aside, Weaver and cast are able to craft rather familiar plot territory into characters with unexpected dimension at times.

Standing as his intellectual equal, Natalie Morales is pitch perfect as Sophie, displaying personality, confidence, and an earned weariness towards smooth talkers like Tyler. While little of her backstory is revealed, Morales proves able to suggest a myriad of heartbreaks her character has endured and the steadfast refusal to be destroyed yet again by her feelings for another. Providing whiny but amusing comic relief is Freaks and Geeks veteran Martin Starr as Alan, Tyler’s best friend. While his mopey affectation is a sign more of weak writing that performance choice, Starr manages to effectively reset Tyler’s moral compass and provides solace for his friend when he genuinely needs it. Hands down though, the film’s scene stealers are veteran comedic actors Dave Foley and John Michael Higgins.

Both men, an art gallery owner and Tyler’s agent respectively, exude joy in being able to deliver biting dialogue often at the protagonist’s expense. Foley in particular displays a cattiness that little of his previous work on The Kids in the Hall or News Radio would suggest, but is delicious within this context. All this leads though to an emotionally honest and tough conclusion that ultimately does not settle for easy answers and justifies the previous 100 or so minutes devoted to this tale of love. If and when this film plays near you, be sure to check it out as it is a date film that both men and women can enjoy together and likely talk about after the credits roll.

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