David: Welcome back to DoubleFeaturePreachers.com! Today we are reviewing Total Performance, which is a short film directed by Sean Meehan. Here’s a link to the Facebook, and here’s a link to the IMDB page. The short film follows Cori, who has a very different job than most.
Shannon, what were your first thoughts during the open and description of Cori’s job?
Shannon: I thought the overall concept of the story was interesting. An actress that works for a company to act as your significant other for the sole purpose to scream and yell at, or practice saying something hard to. So when the film starts she is recanting what she does on a date, who asks what it’s like to “turn off” or have no emotion for what’s going on during her job each day. The representation of Cori by Tory Berner is wonderful. The emotions that I can only imagine are going through that character's mind is spot on with what is brought to the screen. What were you initial thoughts, David?
David: I really liked the ideas presented in this short. I, for one, think it would take a very special type of person to excel at this type of thing and, as the short tells us a few times, not include any of their own personal advice. I also think it would be incredibly hard to distance yourself emotionally. The idea of it almost reminds me of an episode of the excellent television show Black Mirror, in which human intimacy has become so recorded that there is essentially nothing left there.
I liked the performance by Tory Berner. She frequently portrayed lines of dialogue across her face without having needed to say anything at all. There were at times her reactions seemed a bit more forced (I’m thinking in particular of the scene she shares with Timothy Cox), but overall she gives a solid starring performance.
It’s hard to watch something like this and not think about all the other cultural aspects of a service like this in a society. How many people know that this service is an option? How many people, from high ranking political officials to smaller households are using this service? How much is it exactly? There are a lot of fallouts from this, and it’s a bit of a shame that the short was only 17 minutes and couldn’t explore more of the cultural fallout.
Let me ask you bluntly Shannon: Steven Conroy plays Tim Madsen. Is Tim trying to get caught by Cori, or is he just really, really dumb?
Shannon: That’s a really good question. I would have to say that I think he just wanted to get to know the person he was hiring before hiring her, based on the reactions that the two had together while sitting in his apartment. I was almost expecting for him to have her stay with him when the girlfriend came home, just as an excuse to get them broken up. But was that really what he wanted? Perhaps he needed Cori to determine if this thing he had was for real or if he really felt like his relationship wasn’t going to work out.
With Cori listening from the bathroom, it was a very intense scene for sure. What were your thoughts on this? Same as mine or did you think he just was pretty dumb about the whole thing?
David: I personally think he was just an idiot. I really like your way of looking at things though. With the possibility of the fact that he already knew Cori worked for the service prior to the date, it opens up an entire realm of possibilities with Tim’s character.
I really thought it was an intense scene as well. There is a lot that is presented - Tim’s unwillingness to do what needs to be done, along with the poor girlfriend who doesn’t know a thing that is going on. On some level, I think we are supposed to feel sorry for Tim, but I don’t - he’s a jerk. Tory Berner sells the entire film here, as we watch all the different things play across her face - does she want to be with Tim? Could she trust him if she was? Is there a true disappointment when Tim doesn’t say what he needs to? It’s all left up to interpretation, and I like that.
Was there anything else you wanted to say about Total Performance Shannon?
Shannon: I know what you mean about the interpretation that’s left at the end. For me, I like it when things are wrapped up in a tiny bow and all questions answered. It’s hard to tell if she really wanted to be with him or not, I would think that she just felt bad for Tim. And I agree with you, I feel worse for the girlfriend than for Tim and I agree with you about Tory’s performance. She is the main character and totally kept the film going perfectly and made it what it was (other than Timothy Cox and everyone behind the scenes).
I don’t think there is anything else I’d like to touch on for this short. As for my rating, I would give it a “Liked It” (4/5) rating. What about you?
David: I’m going to give it a “B-”. Thanks for joining us today!
David and Shannon write about movies.