A blend of reality and fiction, "Open Five" follows the story of Jake, a struggling musician and his sidekick, Kentucker, a maker of "poor" films and what happens when two girls (Lucy and ... See full summary »

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A blend of reality and fiction, "Open Five" follows the story of Jake, a struggling musician and his sidekick, Kentucker, a maker of "poor" films and what happens when two girls (Lucy and Rose) venture down to Memphis for a long weekend. Written by K Audley

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The most middling tendencies of mumblecore exercised
9 July 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Kentucker Audley's Open Five feels less like a well-developed, well-structured film and more like somebody directed a rough, vague outline of Audley's notes on the film rather than somebody directed the script that was written for Open Five. The result is a strange and frequently dry film, existing in the mumblecore subgenre of cinema, that captures a faint but present sense of intimacy but an impact that is about as lasting as a sizable stone being tossed into a pond. Once the rings descend into a calm, stagnant body of water, all memory is almost faint.

The film predominately concerns the couple of Jake (Jake Rabinbach), a struggling musician who dreams of sizable success, and Lucy (Shannon Esper), who decide to vacation to Memphis for a weekend with their pals Kentucker (Audley) and Rose (Genevieve Angelson). Kentucker is a self-proclaimed maker of "poor films," or films that lack very adequate funding and are made for nothing and, in turn, make about next to nothing. Just from the film's opening scene, we can tell Jake and Lucy have been through quite a bit, but they push on in the tumultuous game of life, while Kentucker and Rose do the same, struggling to make a sustainable living in a world that seems to have left them behind. When the four get together, however, sporadic dialogs ensue and emotion comes through, although not in the way I was necessarily hoping for.

Films of the mumblecore subgenre really do not have a clear, evident, point A to point B style plot. They rely on characters, whose characteristics, shortcomings, flaws, attributes, and personalities, in turn, make up the plot and allow the picture to be defined as a whole. If you have interesting characters, you often have a very solid, thought-provoking mumblecore film. If you have uninteresting characters, you tend to have a more mediocre to average mumblecore film that may be saved by a couple of conversations or a few insights along the way.

Of course I employ the words "interesting" and "uninteresting" with a heavy sense of personal opinion. I didn't find much to care about in the story of any of these characters, finding their conversations unremarkable and boring and their insights few and far between. Perhaps you will see Jake and Lucy's relationship as something to invest in and maybe see yourself inside those characters. Open Five's saving grace, for me, was its naturalism in setting and tone, bearing an attitude and aesthetic that clearly wanted to adhere to something more along the lines of "real life" than anything produced and manufactured in a larger, more mainstream sense. The film is a byproduct of pleasant millennial naturalism rather than cloying millennial nagging, which we saw present in Lena Dunham's intolerable Tiny Furniture. At least in Open Five, we get some ideas as to practical and believable relationships.

Audley, as a co-writer to Rabinbach, Esper, and Angelson and director, doesn't find enough to adapt Open Five into in terms of a conversational film and instead makes a tiresome retread of pitfalls and redundancies that we see present in the weaker latter of Joe Swanberg films. Speaking of Swanberg, Open Five at least reminded me of his film Drinking Buddies, which I found to be one of his strongest films, and that I hadn't promoted it in a while. If you're gonna spend over an hour with two couples, at least choose the more interesting and layered ones in that film.

Starring: Jake Rabinbach, Shannon Esper, Kentucker Audley, and Genevieve Angelson. Directed by: Kentucker Audley.


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