Open Five: Grown-up New Look, Same Old Mumblecordian Themes


Those familiar with the slapdash cinematography in Joe Swanberg’s own movies might be surprised to discover the filmmaker’s restrained, occasionally shimmering lenswork in Kentucker Audley’s Open Five. There’s still no shortage of awkwardly framed close-ups and lurching zooms, but most of the shots seem consciously composed, and some—a nighttime overhead of a New York street, for example—are far more than merely functional. Unfortunately, Audley’s film isn’t content to simply enlist Swanberg’s technical services. Open Five treads the same thematic territory that the Hannah Takes the Stairs director helped make infamous: the lives and loves of the young and self-absorbed. Such is the setup here, as two Brooklyn girls head down to Memphis, one to spend time with her sort-of boyfriend, one to hook up with his filmmaker friend (Audley, playing a version of himself). While everyone here aspires to the creative class (and while one peripheral figure dissects the narcissistic allure of the “artistic type,” thus delivering the film’s vague meta-critique), that doesn’t stop the central quartet from evincing only the occasional interest in anything outside of their own lives. Unfortunately, when such broader interests appear, it’s via a character’s inchoate music critic musings or, more palatably, through a choice sampling of Southern-fried, gospel-soaked local color.