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First, the Recap:
Oh those awkward conversations. The ones you really, REALLY wish you didn’t have to have with another person. And, of course, this usually means it’s about rough subject matter or otherwise uncomfortable situations that, frankly, NO ONE wants to bring to light. However, what if you HAD to be a part of such interactions, but under resolute and unfaltering intent? Such is the work day for struggling actress Cori Sweeney (Tory Berner) in the employ of the company Total Performance. Their goal–sending out actors to desperate souls in need of “practicing” and enacting the delicate, yet tense, encounter they’re needing to engage in, but without the emotional collateral damage that ensues. In essence, Cori becomes a paid, human sparring partner.
After completing one such session with a client, Bruce (Paul Locke), Cori takes some needed time out via a dinner date with a friend, Tim (Steven Conroy), who grills her about the work she does, in wonder as to how Cori manages to cope after a hard day of being an emotional puppet to other people’s issues. As the evening moves on, her attraction to Tim is made evident. Additionally, an opportunity for a local acting gig arises, for which she applies. With business as usual at the office the next day, including another client, Walter (Timothy J. Cox), Cori gets the call for the audition. Life seems in control, until an unexpected client takes things in directions Cori isn’t prepared for. Making a choice, she faces the realities of what it is to do her job, but also what it is to experience first hand the precise conflicts she’s always helped others prepare to face.
Next, my Mind:
Boston, MA and New York, NY-based production company Cross River Pictures, the ultimate brainchild of the film’s director Sean Meehan, delivers a wonderfully smart, subtly humorous, and earnestly dramatic 17-minute wonder of a short film with “Total Performance”. With a premise that at first seems oddly absurd, the project carries itself quite maturely and dares the viewer to not become emotionally invested in its lead character, Cori, magically portrayed with that same sense of grounded humanness by actress Berner. It’s a potent picture of how one person acting out real emotional turmoil has its price, boiling under the surface until the wrong circumstance makes it all come to vivid life.
And again, Berner very much provides that raw duality of role play vs. reality in this effort. Likewise, strong supporting work by Conroy as Tim only aides in solidifying the narrative more, and additionally brings the needed tension that makes Cori’s emotional journey even more poignant by the finale. The straight-forward beauty of the cinematography and basic settings allows for focus on the characters themselves, which is always a plus in indie efforts, and is what sets them apart so often from mainstream fare. A great musical score and accompanying supporting roles make a total picture here. In summary, “Total Performance” is a savvy illustration about the fights we face outwardly with each other as well as those we face within ourselves, and how we need to deal with matters of the heart in truth or risk being left alone.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!
Special Bonus: Want to check out this film? How about going to HERE to do just that!