Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Twist of Real Life: Short Film Dramedy "Total Performance" Draws Human Laughs Out Of Loneliness

Genre: Dramedy
Length- 17:15
Company:  Cross River Pictures

Cori (Tory Berner) is an actress, but showbiz is a tough gig so until stardom comes calling she pays her dues by working for Total Performance.  She still uses her acting skills, but instead of being in front of a camera, she's in front of customers, and instead of doing it for the art, she's basically role-playing with these individuals to help them talk their way out of difficult spots in their own troubled relationships.

It's a whacky way to earn a living, but hey, a girl's gotta eat.  But try explaining it to that cute guy you're trying to impress on your first date.  Especially when that cute guy is Tim (Steven Conroy), who seems to have it all together and you really like him.

And well, that's just the beginning -- 'cuz life's never easy for an actress.


Writer/director Sean Meehan's been featured here on Forest City Short Film Review for "Mallas, MA" and "Over Coffee", but this time around instead of a paranormal comedy we have something a little more grounded: a zany comic drama with a really wild story about people trapped in their lives, unable to so much as speak about what might improve it, or what it would take for them to become happy.

While the pacing might be a little slow at times, the coloring looks cinematic and the scenes transition well from one to the next.  Visually the picture might not be stunning but it does what it has to do to tell the story, which might not sound like much, but for a drama I much prefer that than being smothered with fancy camera tricks or odd angles.


I don't want to say too much about "Total Performance" because you really should watch it yourself to appreciate what I'm saying, but we have themes of personal freedom, time, and love and trust all being stripped away slowly until our characters become more and more insular.  It all boils down to a final conflict between three characters in particular, and where Cori finds herself at the finale, it's pretty affecting.

All in all, "Total Performance" is the best short film I've seen by far from Meehan.  I much appreciated the strong characters and the surprising depth from what could have been just another off-the-wall comedy.


Writing: 4 / 5.  Depth, characters you can care about and about whom Meehan pulls no punches -- they do good and bad things, just like real people.  The finale was pitch perfect.
Directing: 3 / 5.  Meehan's directing keeps the story moving.
Editing: 3 / 5.  Pacing issues aside, it never drags.  The film looks good thanks to colorist Rob Bessette.  Meehan also handled editing duties.
Sound/Music: 3.5 / 5.   Composer Cesar Suarez's score goes from playful to introspective and dark at times with incredible fluidity.  The dialogue and sound effects are recorded at a professional level.
Acting: 4 / 5.  "Total Performance" is extremely well acted across the board.  Berner is so darn likeable and a pleasure to watch as our lead, Cori, and Conroy is effective in his part.  Caitlyn Berger as Annie and Anthony Rainville as Rafi are also notable for their small roles.  Timothy J. Cox also appears as Walter, and as always he puts on a good show.

Final Grade: 3.5 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Total Performance" and follow the creators on Facebook!

Once you're done watching "Total Performance", check out "Mallas, MA" from Sean Meehan right here and "Over Coffee" over at this link!

Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!