La Di Da Film Festival
By Don Simpson | September 12, 2012
Director: Kentucker Audley
Starring: Kentucker Audley, Jake Rabinbach, Caroline White, Elizabeth Behl, Brooke Bloom, Shannon Esper, Sophia Takal, Dustin Guy Defa, Morgan Jon Fox, Sophia Holman, Susan Bodo, Walker Behl, Francis Starlite, Justin Cox, Declan Deely, David Behl
Historically, sequels have been reserved solely for Hollywood franchise films, so did I ever expect to be reviewing a sequel to Kentucker Audley’s Open Five? Not in a million years! But judging from the narrative structure, it appears that Audley always planned for a sequel. If we believe the timeline of narrative (and I do not mean to infer that Audley is deceiving us), Open Five 2 begins while Kentucker (Kentucker Audley) — a presumably fictionalized version of the director — is editing Open Five.
Kentucker resides in Lexington, while his girlfriend Caroline (Caroline White) lives in Memphis. Their relationship seems strained not only by the distance between them, but also by an admission made by Caroline during a Skype conversation (a scene that plays as a subtle homage to Joe Swanberg). It is not long before Kentucker is on the road to New Orleans by way of Memphis with his best friend Jake (Jake Rabinbach) and Jake’s friend Z (Elizabeth Behl). Everyone in the van is drifting towards or away from their lovers. Also, they all identify themselves as artists — filmmaker (Kentucker), musician (Jake) and painter (Z). Of the three of them, Z seems to the most content with her nomadic lifestyle, being the most in love while also the most financially successful (albeit from a modeling gig, not her primary form of art).
Open Five 2 plays like a rambling hyper-naturalistic conversation about relationships (specifically topics like commitment, guilt, long-distance relationships, unwanted pregnancies, and break-ups) as well as the inherent financial struggles involved with following one’s artistic aspirations. As with its predecessor, Open Five 2 navigates a spectrum of dying and budding romances; you know, that natural ebb and flow or push-pull of relationships (something the participants in this film seem to know a heck of a lot about).
Open Five 2 is as close to a Joe Swanberg film as Audley has come, from the aforementioned Skype conversation to the film’s very natural portrayal of sex. Open Five 2 also takes on a theme that has become prevalent in a few of Swanberg’s later works, the balancing of an actor’s sex scenes with their real life relationship.
Audley’s visually poetic, vérité approach to narrative filmmaking functions a beautiful showcase of minimalist, micro-budget — or, as Audley’s website suggests, No Budge — cinema. Obviously handcuffed by a microscopic budget, Audley relies heavily upon his [proverbial] “black book” of actors, all of whom possess uncanny abilities for naturalistic performances. Watch for cameos by Dustin Guy Defa (director of Bad Fever) and Sophia Takal (director of Green).