By Don Simpson | February 1, 2015
Director: Johanna Moder
Writer: Johanna Moder
Starring: Marcel Mohab, Manuel Rubey, Katharina Pizzera, Helmut Berger, Stephanie Fürstenberg, Vietha Luong, Simon Dietersdorfer
Daniel (Marcel Mohab) is the black sheep of his bourgeois family. While his brother Rudi (Manuel Rubey) toils away his days as a corporate tool for their father’s business, Daniel has opted for a “career” as an actor in an experimental theater collective (according to his father, Daniel’s hobby is acting but his career is begging). The sharp contrast between Daniel’s economic status and the rest of his family’s is apparent anytime they interact. Relying solely upon his bicycle for transportation, Daniel appears at formal family events disheveled and under-dressed; but Daniel’s inherent elitist snobbery also sets him apart from his own economic class, so he does not really fit in anywhere…
Eventually, when Daniel agrees to accept a freelance assignment from his brother, it is purportedly not for the money, but to help his brother with a clandestine investigation of a potential mistress. When Daniel discovers the true intentions of the investigative assignment, he is left morally confounded; his socioeconomic and political ties are found to be breaking at their seams.
Writer-director Johanna Moder’s High Performance pits Daniel’s economic status against his social status, testing the soundness of his moral fibre against his questioning of what it means to be free. Like a Sartrean hypothesis on freedom, Moder presents Daniel as a financially struggling actor as he battles against his bourgeois roots. Though Daniel seems to have a superiority complex due to his bourgeois upbringing, he purports to be more free due to his lack of corporate ties. As Daniel learns (to the soundtrack of Bill Callahan’s masterful “Too Many Birds”), financial success is intrinsically tied with cheating and trickery.