Writer/director/star Blayne Weaver's 6 Month Rule is a film that is, perhaps boldly, trying to keep a certain breed of '90s indie romcom alive in a post-Miramax era. Between this film and his last feature The Weather Girl, Weaver seems to be drawn to material about romantically damaged charmers who, through the healing power of love, find their own character flaws. This makes for a lot of pretty good and very frank dialogue, but is also peppered with clichéd moments like weepy runs to apartments to make teary confessions in the rain. To his credit, Weaver has not allowed his heroes happy endings; they usually blow it. In a way, 6 Month Rule is a distant, obscurely related cousin to Chasing Amy.
Weaver plays a charming lothario and professional photographer named Tyler who, rather calculatedly, breaks up with every one of his girlfriends after less than a year. The titular rule is the length of time it takes him before he has a new girlfriend again. He doesn't seem to share this pattern of his with any of the women he's with, leaving a string of broken hearts in his wake. And while he's played like a grinning, good-natured fellow, he's actually something of a monster. His only friends are the dweeby Alan (Martin Starr) and the foxy Wendy (Vanessa Branch) with whom he occasionally sleeps with. Right on cue, a woman appears in his life. What's the phrase? Manic Pixie Dreamgirl? The kind of gal who could be played by Zooey Deschanel in any one of these movies. In this case, the girl is Sophie (Natalie Morales), a totally stunning coffeehouse hipster gal in knit caps, cat-eye glasses, and purple leggings. She works in an art gallery. They have not one, but three meet-cutes before they admit to being attracted to one another. Only she's kinda seeing a band guy (Patrick J. Adams) and, well, he's still his kind-of A-hole self.
The film then proceeds pretty much how you'd predict. They fall in love. They overcome their differences. He blows it. They drift apart. There's a brief period of reflection and healing, and the bad guy learns his lesson. Then there's a final last-ditch effort for the hero to bear his heart and, presumably, win back the girl. This is a formula we've seen dozens of times in the past in both greater and lesser movies. The only thing making 6 Month Rule stand apart is a few lines of snappy dialogue, a few talented actors (I liked Morales), and a few nice cameos (Dave Foley has a small role, and Jaime Pressley shows up in one scene). Otherwise this is basically budget indie-house comfort food for the '90s-romcom-besotted soul. It's a late-night cup of cocoa. Warm you for a bit, and forgotten by bedtime.
Nothing about the film is mediocre or bad. It's sweet and simple and straightforward. Nice. It's nice. It will not move you to passion, but you will certainly remain unoffended by the mildly bland but well-meaning effort on display.
I was impressed by the film's particular brand of insistence, however. 6 Month Rule, without self-awareness or irony, presents a universe that seems to have vanished in 1996. There are few cellular telephones, coffee houses and art museums seem to be the only buildings that exist, and hipster musicians are still local heroes. The costumes, the mopeds, the scarves, all imply that this is a parallel universe that has remained pleasantly and stubbornly trapped in the flannel-clad Grunge era. Since I was in college during those years, I recall them with nostalgia, so I was, as I said, impressed by the universe on display. It's nowhere near the overpowering, tearful and honest halcyon nostalgia of, say, Cameron Crowe, but I'm willing to bet Weaver is a Crowe fan. If, however, you have no affection for the mid-'90s, you will find the affected hipsterisms to be insufferable.