My first viewing of 'More Scenes...' was enjoyable enough but the film seemed to rely on a retread of its predecessor. In subsequent viewings, however, more and more nuances emerged that establish complexities of plot, theme, character, and filming style. The first film, 'Scenes...', is delightful, tender, and straightforward--something of an homage to Woody Allen's 'Manhattan Murder Mystery' but in a sweet, gay milieu: 'Nashville Infidelity Mystery'. It concluded happily, capped by a romantic screen kiss that rivals any other.
The sequel begins with scenes from a 'remake' played by different actors (Charlie David and Rett Terrell): the story of 'Scenes...' has indeed become the basis for a film, cribbed from the main character's phone calls to its director, a former flame. In real time, the couple--Darren (director-writer Matt Riddlehoover) and Joe (Jared Allman)--appears and announces to their shocked friends Greg (Cliff Burr) and Luce (the remarkable Thashana McQuiston) that they're splitting up. The remainder of the film deconstructs their reasons for, and misgivings about, that decision, interweaving incrementally expanding memories of the frictions that resulted from the publicly 'remade' version of their romance. 'More Scenes...' has a complex texture and darker tone than its predecessor as it details the relationship from the touching ending of the first film through the action of the second. It has an immediately recognizable authenticity as it depicts the doubts and problems that plague many loving relationships. The final affecting reconciliation is coupled with a bittersweet note of regret and forgiveness that is finally offset by the fleeting comic relief of an off-screen one-line sexy codetta.
After a second viewing, I found the characters' real, human predicament genuinely moving. Riddlehoover's use of subtle and interesting narrative techniques demonstrates a deepening sophistication, making this brief (70-minute) sequel a necessary and emotionally satisfying closure. The opening 'remade' scene is accompanied by an arrangement of Django Reinhardt's 'Clair de Lune' rather than the more appropriate 'Where are you, my love?' that opens the first film, a subtle indication that the tropes added by the main character's 'ex', whether charming or regrettable, are largely inaccurate; but it is these very exaggerations and mistakes that fuel the couple's unhappy separation. The ending is set to the hypnotically intense 'I'll Find You' by Samantha Church, which continues as the credits roll on the left side of the screen while various soundless images from both films, summing up the relationship, appear on the right. 'More Scenes...' is not simply an amorous comedy, but a tight, absorbing piece of film-making which requires several viewings to be fully appreciated. Matt Riddlehoover, as usual, shows himself to be an immeasurable asset to gay film.
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