Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Jeremy Hersh's astute little film explores the performances we all give in day to day life."

As any number of celebrities will tell you, getting too close to fans can be a bad idea. They may be lovely people - even people who, in another life, one could have a great relationship with - but when somebody is starstruck, there's an instant power imbalance, and a set of expectations almost certain to lead to bitterness. That can only be compounded in a situation where the fan dreams of success in the same sphere.

Danielle (Rebecca Henderson) either doesn't realise this or doesn't care - it feels more like the latter - when she invites a gushing Sara (Taylor Hess) for a drink after the theatre closes. Like anyone, she's pleased to be complimented on her work, but a little bit guarded. It is work, after all, and sometimes naive praise can feel a bit like being a master carpenter congratulated for successfully nailing too bits of wood together. She warms to Sara as the latter shows that she has at least enough sense of self to argue with her. A connection is formed.

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Some time later, Sara is in a play. Danielle goes to see it. She praises Sara's performance. At first Sara seems delighted, but soon nagging doubts emerge, and she starts fishing for compliments. Did Danielle really mean that? Is she just being nice? What feedback can she give? If she hated it, really, how can the two of them be together?

Jeremy Hersh's astute little film explores the performances we all give in day to day life, especially when we're trying to impress, and looks at the ways in which our awareness of them can undermine our confidence in one another. It also looks at the particular way in which acting as a profession can bleed over into real life, with some actors struggling to separate an obession with how they present themselves at work from how they behave in day to day life. It doesn't monster Sara, however, and Danielle is also shown to be a flawed character, trying to make Sara part of her life entirely on her own terms. As actresses, the two should have the training to recognise what's going wrong. Can they do so in time?

With strong central performances propping up a slight but functional plot, Actresses gets its message across but leaves us guessing as to what might happen in the final act.

Reviewed on: 22 Jul 2017
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A successful actress forms a relationship with a starstruck newbie actress who doesn't know how to leave work at the door.

Director: Jeremy Hersh

Writer: Jeremy Hersh

Starring: Rebecca Henderson, Taylor Hess, Déa Julien

Year: 2015

Runtime: 12 minutes

Country: US


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