One of the many frustrating feelings that come with being an aspiring screenwriter is the all to frequent envy of seeing an idea in a film and thinking “God, why didn’t I think of that?” We’ve all had it; a genius idea so good that we’re angry it isn’t ours, and have to accept the fact that it’s probably that good just because it wasn’t ours. I got that feeling just reading the plot description for Total Performance, let alone the actual film.
The film stars Tory Berner as Cori, an actress who’s work involved being hired out from a company to rehearse difficult conversations. Break ups, confessions, firings, just about anything, there to help the client vent and practise the intensely emotional discussions they’re forced to have. A “human sparring dummy”, if you will. But Tory has bigger aspirations for her professional and personal life, neither of which are really working out.
The idea of a company that hires actors to practise difficult conversations is nothing short of tremendous; there are so many possibilities with it, so many good and bad implications that are well explored in the film’s short run time. In under 20 minutes, the film gives a clear and thorough explanation of the business, almost immediately followed by it’s questionable aspects. Tory Berner is excellent in the lead, and overall, the film delivers in both a narrative and stylistic way.
Having said that, this is definitely something that lends itself to feature length; while what the film achieves in it’s run time is impressive, it feels like so much more needs to take place before the reasonably dark climax for it to have an impact. It just needs a touch more of every aspect before it can hit the highs it needs to. Still, getting a feature length film made on a low budget is tricky, and ultimately there isn’t really anything wrong with the film as it stands. It uses it’s time well, delivers on a great idea and features great performances. Total Performance is most certainly worth your time.