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[Review] Total Performance (Cross River Pictures, 2015)

Imagine a first date, on which nothing is what it seems. There is a young woman – an actress – explaining her job to a man, who’s just the regular next-door-nice-guy. Just that she’s not an actress in the traditional sense. She (Cori) works for an agency called “Total Performance”, which gives their customers the opportunity to hire actors to simulate different social situations.
The job comes at a high emotional cost, although Cori (played by Tory Berner) would never admit that. Urgently, she tries to get a proper acting job, something that she can relate to.
Her date with Tim goes absolutely perfect. They seem to click very easy and to have a kind of emotional bond. Until Cori becomes aware, that she might not be the only actor out there.

General impression:
I like the idea behind the short movie and would rate it an 4/5.

Total Performance from Sean Meehan on Vimeo.

The short film stands out from the mainstream regarding its story, which surely is able to show, that even small things can sometimes be big game changers. That emotions are never as easy as we wish them to be. And that social statuses can be very frustrating and more difficult than we ever thought.
And of course, that putting on a mask every single day of our lives can make it more difficult for us to put this mask down for those we really care about.

To be honest, I really, really loved the idea of an aspiring actress working for an agency, which offers services for difficult social situations. Who hasn’t been in one? Like: what do you do, if you have to bring bad news to a friend, a lover or a family member? How do you prepare to end a relationship, that you’ve been in for – what it seems – forever?
Especially in our modern daily life, where relationships seem to be more fragile. In a time, in which communication becomes harder and harder – not only, because we start to over-analyze, but also because we seem to lose the ability to have frank discussions about nearly everything – either because we don’t want to hurt someone else, we are confronted with a stubborn conversation partner, we are too shy to stand our ground or we just think it’s no use doing so. Or: we start to lose the ability to properly communicate, because we spend too much time in front of a computer, spend too much time having conversations online – no facial expressions, just emojis; no tone of voice, just CAPSLOCK.
Brilliant!

Acting:
Tory Berner brilliantly plays the character of Cori Sweeney. All the small expressions, that reveal exactly, what the character is up to, what she really thinks, while she says something else.
Berner shows Cory as a strong woman, wearing a mask at her daytime job (and sometimes even in her personal life), but also as a vulnerable individual, suffering from insecurities about herself. And that’s the part she doesn’t want anyone else to see.

Steven Conroy plays Tim Madsen, Corys love interest. His performance is pretty solid, even as Tims character is shown from a different side as well.
The performances of all actors included in this little piece of art is solid and creates an atmosphere of an everyday “normalness”, which drags the viewer into the story.

Filming:
Director Sean Meehan, also writer of the short movie, shows Corys world in a very clear, yet cryptical way. The pictures are rad, the atmosphere is created as an everyday life appearance, without being boring.
Really impressive.

Conclusion:
Totally worth 4/5
An everyday story revealing masks, obstacles and social frictions.

Cast & Crew (as on IMDB):

Tory Berner Cori Sweeney
Steven Conroy Tim Madsen
Caitlin Berger Annie Heron
Anthony Rainville Rafi
Timothy J. Cox Walter Baron
Paul Locke Bruce
Phoebe Kuhlman Lauren
Lauren B. Nelson Susan
Anthony D’Amore Waiter
Nicole Trauffer Woman Auditioner

Directed by
Sean Meehan

Writing credits
Sean Meehan

Produced by
Jamie Barlow associate producer (as Jamie Cox)
Alessandra Brown producer
Timothy J. Cox associate producer
Korey McIsaac producer
Sean Meehan executive producer
Sean Meehan producer

Original Music by
Cesar Suarez

Cinematography by
Chris Loughran

Film Editing by
Sean Meehan

Makeup Department
Maya Landi hair & makeup stylist

Visual Effects by
Sean Meehan

Camera and Electrical Department
Joe McLeish gaffer

Production Companies
Cross River Pictures

Picture Credit: Total Performance Facebook page

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