Directed By: #CorryRaymond
Written By: #CorryRaymond
Short Film Review by: #ChrisBuick
Right now, the entire world is going through what is almost certainly the strangest and most uncertain of times that most generations have witnessed since the Second World War. And as a result of the current global situation, people everywhere are doing whatever they can to desperately hold on to some form of normality as well as their connections to the outside world and the people they love, despite the current restrictions.
But our basic need for human connection is something that pre-dates the current epidemic by a long way; it is an integral and undeniable part of human nature and this event, as strange as it is, is one that has simply amplified those desires.
Short Film Performance Issues from #filmmaker Corry Raymond centres around the very idea of trying to maintain connection and intimacy even in the most unique of circumstances. We meet Dan (Ayres), a man in his thirties, as he walks into a shop to request a refund from staff member Fiona (Paige). His problem? His sex bot Kiki (Fowler) which he purchased to cushion the blow of his recent break-up no longer seems to be attracted to him. And he’s tried everything to make it work, buying it flowers, making it dinner and even learning machine code.
“Is it dangerous to family members, pets or genitalia?”
This line is just one of the highlights in what is ultimately a smartly written, quick-witted accomplishment and there are gems like this sprinkled throughout. It is through lines like these that despite this high-concept premise, Raymond manages to embolden all the truly grounding aspects at play here, such as the awkwardness most of us have talking about sex or the desperation people feel being part of a failing relationship, but he has also allowed it all to be processed through a filter of humour and good nature.
What is probably most pleasing to see is that the subject matter is handled in such a way gives a surprising grace and maturity to a film about sex robots.
Sure, it might not be a situation most are familiar with, but the way the film presents the struggles Dan is going through draws countless parallels to any relationship and therefore becomes utterly relatable.
But a lot of that correct sensibility and tone succeeds thanks to a sincere, funny and at times heart-breaking performance from Ayres. One might question someone’s motives for purchasing such an item and most would simply write it off as perversion. But through Ayres we can see that Dan is simply a man looking for someone, or in this case something, to love and more importantly, just wants them to love him back.
So rather than ridicule, we instead want to root for him, and this feeling is greatly personified in Paige’s Fiona, who manages to convey an overwhelming sense of sympathy rather than harsh judgement. The only stumble the film could be accused of is that the singular interaction we see between Dan and Kiki seems rather hammy and schlocky in comparison to the rest of the piece, meaning the film takes a slight dip in momentum but nowhere near enough to take away from the overall success of the film.
Cleverly avoiding pitfalls of appearing crass or resorting to overtly graphic visual gags, Performance Issues is instead charmingly funny yet always tinged with an underlying sense of sadness as well as moments filled with varying degrees of pity and awkwardness. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster but when the ride is over, you will have a smile on your face. And who doesn’t want that?