Total Performance (Short)
Writer-director Sean Meehan starts us off on a little bit of misdirection, with a man and a woman, sitting at a dining room table, and the man is told to just sign a paper, with the woman telling him, simply, “You’ll never see me again.” We then hear the woman’s voice on the soundtrack, and then cut to her talking to a younger guy in a restaurant. The woman is Cori (Tory Berner), and she’s an actress. She’s not working on a scene, though; she works through a company that allows people to hire actors to help them work through problems they’re having with people in their lives. The guy in the first scene has difficulty talking to his wife, so Cori gives him someone to practice on, same with a CEO whom comes in for an appointment, and is unable to fire his CFO, who is also his best friend. The guy she is talking to in the restaurant, though, is a date, although he has an interesting way of making his intentions known, as Cori will find out the next day.
It would be easy to dismiss Meehan’s film as simply a glimpse into the daily life of a working actor, as we see Cori audition for a role in between her work at Total Performance (the name of the company). There’s a question Cori is asked by her date that is a valid one, comparing her work at Total Performance to that of a therapist, and wondering if she can turn it on and off, or if she finds herself acting in her daily life. That question is put to the test for Cori the day after their date, and watching the range of emotions she is going through blurs the lines between performance and real feeling, and Berner does a terrific job throughout giving us an idea of how Cori really feels. It’s a simple premise, funny and dramatic, played out with a simple style but effortless, fluid storytelling that blurs the lines between Cori’s real life and her life as a performer. You don’t quite know whether she can turn the performer off or not, but you do get the sense of a real person at all times, and that makes for a truly special experience.