“People are always surprised by this movie,” says Blayne Weaver, the writer, director and star of 6 MONTH RULE. “We’ve gone to great lengths to avoid cliches. We’re inherently different, and it’s interesting to see how folks process that”.
RULE, the award-winning independent feature which opened Friday in New York City, has been labeled by the press at large as a “romantic comedy”, and then subsequently praised by critics for completely defying that genre. While Weaver is happy to take the positive reviews, it leaves him wondering why no one seems to realize the reason his film doesn’t play like a rom-com is because it actually isn’t one.
“I really think of it more as a relationship dramedy,” says Weaver. “But everybody wants to classify it. Yes, it’s got some comedy. Yes, there’s a romance in it. But is 6 MONTH RULE just a rom-com? Is BULL DURHAM just a baseball movie? Or is it something more?” Indeed, co-star Patrick J. Adams (“SUITS”) has famously labeled RULE the “anti-rom-com.”
The movie’s central plot certainly seems to contain the elements of a traditional romantic comedy: Tyler Watts, a confirmed bachelor, navigates his sexual conquests using a set of specific personal rules – that is, until the day he meets the exception in the form of the quirky, bequiling Sophie, played by PARKS AND RECREATION’s Natalie Morales.
But even a slightly deeper look at the film muddies these rom-com waters. RULE doesn’t focus primarily on the Tyler/Sophie relationship; indeed, the lens is set squarely on Tyler himself. This is classic character study, and as such, all of his relationships, including the one he has with his career, fall into question. This is the story of a man who skates by life seeking minimal attachment to everything and everyone. And certainly more prevelant than his dealings with Sophie is the friendship with Alan (frequent Judd Apatow collaborator Martin Starr), an old pal who, after being jilted by his fiancee, becomes a reluctant apprentice to Tyler’s womanizing.
Add onto this the grittier, masculine tone of RULES, and one does wonder why this would be classified as a romantic comedy at all. This rich terrain of the male psyche isn’t so far removed from the sort of thing Woody Allen has covered with nearly every picture, yet not once have any of the Wood-man’s works been saddled with the term “rom-com.”
“Mass marketing tries to define everything as simply as possible, and this also unfortunately allows them to dismiss it,” says Weaver. “Woody Allen is a known entity, so people don’t classify his stuff as rom-com, but they do instead stamp it as a ‘Woody Allen Movie’. And by doing that, they box it in.”
For an indie flick, such a classification can make getting audiences into the theater more challenging. The term “romantic comedy” comes with an expectation for some filmgoers, and a stigma for others.
“If we were released by a studio and dropped into 3000 screens, this probably wouldn’t be an issue,” says Weaver. “But this is an indie, and indie audiences generally expect more. They’re smarter, and you have to convince them this isn’t that movie that they’ll hate.”
“Some people like the silly rom-com,” he adds. “And for that audience, frankly, our movie might upset them because it’s got a little more teeth. The lead character is imperfect. Katherine Heigl isn’t in it, nor are Matthew McConaughey’s abs. No one rides across the Brooklyn Bridge on a horse to stop a wedding. I wanted to make something real, that reflects the choices we as adults make. And for those people who want more from a movie, it should be a pleasant surprise.”
The reviews thus far have bared this out, citing the film’s refusal to play by the rules of the rom-com formula and instead offering a much more realistic, human story. Authenticity was at the heart of Weaver’s intent, both with RULE’s screenplay and production.
“There’s nothing in this movie that couldn’t happen, and frankly most of it has,” Weaver declares. “90% of this is absolutely from real life. I’ve been every character in this film at one point or other. The only English I’ve put on this is to elevate the stakes for the sake of making it cinema.”
Perhaps the biggest departure from the expectations of romantic comedy is RULE’s controversial ending. Without revealing any spoilers, the movie’s unusually dark climactic turn has tended to dominate the discussion among festival audiences and even come to define the film itself.
“Until the credits roll, you can’t see the story for what it is,” Weaver reveals. “The ending is what makes you see the movie the way I want you to. You look back and view the relationships in a completely new way. And if you watch the movie a second time, it’ll be a very different experience.”
6 MONTH RULE is currently playing at the Village East Cinema in New York City and will open in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Santa Monica 4-Plex Friday, June 8th. For a complete list of cities and release dates head to www.6MONTHRULEMOVIE.com.
Paul Osborne is the director of film festival documentary OFFICIAL REJECTION & screenwriter of cult thriller TEN ‘TIL NOON. His latest movie, FAVOR, is in post-production. Follow him on Twitter at @PaulMakesMovies.