Kentucker Audley's Open Five 2, the sequel to his 2010 film Open Five, which, like this one, has been released via No Budge, a site dedicated to releasing little-know, no-budget independent films, could acceptably go down as the first sequel ever to a mumblecore film. It's just a shame that Audley's sequel to his ho-hum film would be more of a surprise and a pleasant offering than what seems to be more of the same material from the first Open Five, although, this time, reality is quietly bent in the process.
The film opens showing Audley's presumably fictionalized version of himself returning as Kentucker, as he works on editing the first Open Five on his computer, in a way that humbly blurs the reality and fiction of what we watched in that first film. Meanwhile, Kentucker has a new girlfriend named Caroline (Caroline White), who resides in Memphis, while he lives in Lexington. The long-distance aspect of their relationship has made them collectively more distant from each other, until Caroline gives Kentucker the news that she's pregnant via-Skype call before Kentucker hits the road to go see her with his friends Jake (Jake Rabinbach) and Jake's good friend Z (Elizabeth Behl) along for the ride.
Thankfully, this carfull of people is also experiencing trouble with their relationships, and all of whom are some sort of struggling artist in a world that seemingly has no need for them. Kentucker, like in the first film, is still a maker of "poor films," or films that have very little budget, Jake is still a musician but one that is losing confidence he'll ever take off and make something of himself, and Z is a painter. Being that Z is a new character, we don't know how she has taken to being a painter for so long, but she seems to be the most content with her life out of any of these guys, also working from time to time as a model.
Open Five 2 shares Open Five's uncomfortable feeling that we're watching the outline or vague notes of a film being directed rather than the actual screenplay being directed. The original film, along with this sequel, feel more like filmed ideas than they do actual films. Both of them clocking in at just over an hour in time, it isn't a lot of time to start, development, and then end a story built up almost entirely of characters, but other directors have managed it in less of a time frame. Mumblecore aficionado Joe Swanberg actually cast Kentucker Audley in one of his shortest films, Marriage Material, which was just a little over fifty minutes and showed Audley and Amanda Crawford as a young couple trying to raise a child when they're still caught up in that phase of uncertainty that plagues many collegiate-age souls.
Marriage Material worked because it had a central idea and wasted none of its time. Open Five and Open Five 2's central issues are that it doesn't seem to have a central idea and its character do not engage in enough conversations that allow for insights to prevail, and it also doesn't help that the characters in the film are just not that interesting as a whole. Again, mumblecore is heavily reliant on characters, and if you don't care for the characters, chances are, you will not care for the film that much either. Just because I found little to recommend in both Open Five films doesn't mean you will too; perhaps you'll see these films as "defining" for you and your character. That's the beauty of mumblecore and, to that, that's none of my business.
Starring: Jake Rabinbach, Elizabeth Behl, Kentucker Audley, and Caroline White. Directed by: Kentucker Audley.