I'm pretty sure this film was written and produced by a 13-year-old.
Caleb, a boy of about 16 or 17 years old, is this phenomenal skateboarder, but is a loner. He doesn't seem to have friends. He wants no part of the other bully-skateboarders, one of whom taunt a homeless man. The homeless man is some wise Saint who holds up Jesus signs, and who, in the end, advises Caleb.
Caleb lives alone with his mother in a modest apartment. He is verbally cruel to her because she's rarely home. She's rarely home because she works two jobs to pay the bills. She struggles financially. She is kind to Caleb and tried hard to form a relationship with him, but he wants nothing to do with this, and his harsh to her. He needs a slap.
SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD:
(but it doesn't matter because this film isn't really worth watching)
Meanwhile, the mother has cancer that somehow gives her headaches, and she collapses from it while Caleb is being super mean to her. Caleb finds her on the floor, then does a 180 (with his emotions, not with his skateboard), and does a hardflip by being loving to her instead of being mean and hateful to her. But don't worry... he becomes mean and hateful to his rich father, who he's never met. I guess Caleb has to be mean and hateful to SOMEone.
Caleb's mother told him that she was romantic with a guy, got pregnant, then never saw the guy again. She lied to protect him (then later realized this was a mistake). Caleb finds love letters that his father wrote to his mother before he was born (easy to find... in a drawer... funny how Caleb never found the letters before). He also finds checks from his father to his mother, checks she never cashed even tho she was being evicted.
Caleb seeks out his father, Jack, who works in a billion-dollar architectural firm. Jack is so Scrooge-like to his employees, it's comical. Everyone paints Jack as being this SUPER busy executive, but Jack mostly stares out his gigantic office window looking at the city-scene. When he's not doing that, he spends time visiting Caleb's mother in the hospital (which looks more like a living room), or trying to reach Caleb, or yelling at his subordinate, which is also comical.
The one good point about the film is a minor character called Joey. Joey is the only person in the film who can act. He gets tossed around by the bully skateboarders, but the way he takes it and lets a lot of it slide off his shoulders is truly funny.
There was way too much music thrown into the film, but I guess that what tweens like. Also, the sound track was off, which didn't really bother me, but the film looked like they used a budget cellphone to video all the scenes.
Not bad, for a 13-year-old's school project.
Non-Hollywood films are refreshing. There's no car chase scenes, no unrealistic gunshots, no explosions... how wonderful.
The cinematography and acting were good. What was especially nice was how the writer/director/actors didn't blast you with a message. Messages were given in a subtle way. For example, the parents loved both their sons, though as an adult, Norman was the one who was the success. Paul (Brad Pitt) was animated, lively, fun... but troubled. Paul was the life of the party at the dinner table. Norman, the older, quieter, and more sensible son, got a college degree and eventually landed a respectable job, while Paul drank too much and got into too many fights. You could see the parents' reaction, and them trying not to show Paul their disappointment. Also, Paul struggled with loving his older brother, but also, being jealous of him. Love won, but still, it was a conflict with Paul.
I wished they did more with how Paul had mastered fly fishing, and how he had made it an art. That was a touching scene, when Norman watched his brother down the river work his fly fish pole in a spiritual way.
Why did Norman love the woman he eventually married? (I forget her name). She seemed rather cold, and there was no real redeeming character in her. He saw her at a dance and fell in love. So was it only superficial? Was it only looks? I thought Norman would be better than this.
When the brothers were late teens (or was it early twenties), they got in a fist fight in the kitchen. It was the first and last time they got physical with each other. They needed to determine which one was tougher. I thought for sure Paul was. So why didn't Paul win?
I loved the minor character who played Norman's girlfriend's brother. I forget his name too. PERFECT character description of a shmuck! From the moment this superficial arrogant looser steps off the train wearing all white tennis clothing with a snobby scarf, we see true character. It's enhanced when he snubs off Norman at a livingroom social. It was so pinpoint when he pets the family dog, but slaps the dog when the dog gets a bit rough when excited.
All in all, the subtle touches were brilliantly realistic.
I was intrigued and confused when watching this film.
The beginning drew me in. The acting was natural, and the characters were defined, but I wondered what the heck was going on. As I continued watching, I experienced more and more confusion, and dozens of questions were never answered.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Nic and Jonah were hackers... I got that... and they were after NOMAD, another hacker... I got that. They took a split second to explain that NOMAD almost got them expelled. How? They never explained.
Nic's relationship with Haley was hurt. Why? Because Nic thought his medical condition would worsen and hold her back? That's what he said, but was it an excuse? Is he angry with her moving, so he's being passive aggressive? We see from the first scene (Nic helping a little boy with a game) that Nic is genuinely a nice guy. So why is he distancing himself with Haley, hurting her badly? Why doesn't he explain himself rather than ignoring her for a month, then giving her a 2-second explanation?
What disease does Nic have? Multiple sclerosis? Something else? Like everything in this movie, it's not explained. I guess "open-endedness" is supposed to be cool and artistic. I do appreciate movies that are open-ended, but this was too extreme for me, where I understood next to nothing, and as the film progress, so did my confusion.
Even the camera work was confusing. The scene of Nic and Jonah in the deserted house looking for NOMAD was intriguing and held my interest, but the scenes were quick and hard to follow. Then Haley screams, and they rush outside to find her missing from the car, and then there's this bright light. What happened? I couldn't see. I pressed REWIND and had to view the scene a couple of times to see what was going on, but I couldn't make it out. Was it an explosion? Did someone clobber then over their head and their vision went white? Again (and again and again), I didn't know what was going on.
Then the confusion got even worse.
Was Dr. Damon trying to help them? Was was he so very cold and detached? Why wouldn't he answer any of Nic's questions?
Why was Nic tatooed?
Why was Dr. Damon giving Nic simple questions such as "what color is this?"
I love films that make you think, but throughout this film, I kept asking "What?" and "Why?!?" and "Huh?!?"
Then, the most confusing part... Dr. Damon shows Nic a film of Nic and Jonah in the house searching for NOMAD, then the film stops at a tree, and Nic is shocked. Why? Once again, I played back the scene. What was so shocking about the tree? Huh? What?
Why did Dr. Damon tell Nic that Jonah was never in the facility?
Why did Dr. D. keep Nic apart from Haley?
Why did the staff pull Nic's hands away from Haley?
What the heck was with the cow?!?!?
Again, that was never explained.
Why were there dark streaks on the wall?
How did Nic's neck get cut so badly?
After they break out, why are all the people in the barren dessert acting like mental zombies? If the alien experiments made them that way, why wasn't Nic and Jonah and Haley acting like mental zombies? (well, Haley kind of was).
Why couldn't Jonah remove his gloves? What was going on with his hands? I, for the hundredth time, had to rewind the film and replay, but dialogue was mumbled and the scenes were too quick to see what was going on.
If they gave Nic new legs, and Jonah new arms (which I finally figured out in the end when Jonah had super-powers and took out the metal post that kept their 4-wheeler truck from moving), why didn't they fix Jonah's eyes?
Why the quick reference to Area 51?
Were they in Area 51? Again, this was never explained or taken any further than just a quick reference or statement suggesting Area 51. There were hundreds of references that were never taken any further.
If Damon's team worked so hard on these humans to make them super human with alien technology, why did they decide to kill them with a gun, after investing so much in them? And if they had such super alien technology, why use such archaic guns? This film just didn't make sense.
Why did Jonah not die immediately after dozens of bullets pummeled his back?
Haley is evacuated by helicopter -- is this by Dr. Damon's crew, or the outside world rescuing her? Guess we'll never know. They don't explain that either.
And what in god's name did Nic break into in the end? It looks like he entered a computer game, like TRON. I was hoping he'd reach the real world, but I didn't know if the real world still existed. I thought maybe a nuke had destroyed the real world, but of course that wasn't explained. I think maybe Nic was never human, but was just a computer character in a game and finally realized his existence, but I'm not sure. Dr. Damon was either an alien to start with and made to look human, or he was human to start with, then altered with alien technology... who knows.
I kind of hated this movie.
I felt mostly confusion, frustration, with a tad bit of interest. I waited for answers that never came. The movie tried to show how artistic and primal it was, but it missed for me. If it slowed down a bit and showed the scenes more clearly, it might have gotten a better rating. As it was, the movie ended with a need for me to throw my shoe across the room.
What was most interesting to me was that they had Subway and Applebee's on the Moon. What also was interesting was that when people arrived on the moon, which was now a commercial attraction, it was like an airport.
The relationship between father and son interesting –– it was estranged, complex, and heart-wrenching. However, the movie moved too slowly, was cold and distant, and left me a little bored at times. And what the heck was the deal with the monkeys? They popped in, way out of flavor with the movie, and were never mentioned again.
Things aren't gray. While there is no clear "good guy" or "bad guy" going on here, this story simply explores a relationship in a realistic way, without guns, without cops, without explosions. Those who need this type of stimulation will get bored. Six Years reveals the complexity of people with their twisted psychology. Mel tells Dan "I love you," then declares "I hate you" hours later.
The writers and actors were spot-on showing young college age kids with their roller-coaster moods, intense feelings, and ambivalent emotions. Kids make bad decisions. They act, then later reflect, instead of doing the opposite. We see them sabotage their relationship (a kiss here, a push there), only to regret it later. When we are young, we do this. We later learn not to, hopefully.
The spontaneous ad-lib dialogue was fresh. Unlike a structured script, Taissa Farminga (who played Mel) and Ben Rosenfeld (who played Dan) acted naturally, often interrupting each other like we do in real life.
Does this film explore domestic violence. Some say yes, but in my personal and humble opinion, I saw the the injuries caused accidentally. Mel pushes Dan, twice, but doesn't mean to make him bleed. Dan pins Mel to the ground to stop her from striking him, not to hurt her. In real life domestic violence cases, they mean harm. Men strike women in the face. This wasn't the case here.
COMMENT ON THE ENDING...
DON'T READ FURTHER...
The ending was open-ended. Will they remain together? Will they work things out and learn to THINK before they act? Are they violent people, or do they simply need to mature? Their love is solid, no doubt. They have little impulse control. They realize this too late.
Dan's change of heart at the end was a bit abrupt (and confusing) when he decided not to go to New York. Mel pushes him into glass, cutting his feet, and while recuperating in the hospital from that push, he decides to hinder his career for her.
Dan's mistakes were that he didn't include Mel on the decision-making when he decided to move to New York. Mel's mistake was that she often was a hot-head, exploding both verbally and physically when Dan upset her, striking out with words like "I hate you" and actions such as pushing him and feebly striking at him.
When Mel says, "I want you to go to New York", does she mean she wants to have a long distance relationship, or does she think their relationship has ended. This is what the viewer must decide.