Thursday, February 8, 2018

Permission: Movie Review

Relationship drama with unrelatable characters.
Permission is a relationship movie that’s supposed to be about that crossroads when you know you’re in love but you don’t know if you’re in love with the person that you’re supposed to be in love with. I’m not convinced that that’s an actual crossroads that many people experience, regardless, the film really just spends the entire run time trying to convince us that having sex with strangers is sexy. It’s not. 2017

Directed by: Brian Crano

Screenplay by: Brian Crano

Starring: Rebecca Hall, Dan Stevens

Anna (Rebecca Hall) is a 30-year-old woman finalizing her grad school thesis on the verge of a successful academic career and still in love with her childhood boyfriend Will (Dan Stevens) who’s about to propose to her. Simply, a woman who almost has her life figured out. Then while out with her brother and his boyfriend, before Will has a chance to propose, they suggest that she hasn’t slept with enough men to truly know if Will is her one true love. So off they go to have sex with strangers with each knowing about it.

Rebecca Hall and François Arnaud in PERMISSION. Courtesy of Pacific Northwest Pictures.
Now is a good time to squash one false promotion: this is not a romantic comedy. Romance is arguably subjective, but they don’t even attempt comedy in this movie. That premise is presented completely seriously, and the characters take themselves even more seriously. It plays out like an indie version of Fifty Shades of Grey and I’m not sure who would want to watch that.

As is common with most indie relationship movies, everything in it is character-based, and that is where it must sink or swim. I didn’t find Anna nor Will realistic, relatable or interesting. They are people who think they are happily in love, but clearly aren’t since they go out looking for something else. If they know enough to seek happiness elsewhere then clearly they’re just pretending to be happily in love – in which case why bother pretending? Or they actually are happily in love and then are destroying that for fun? You are going to need to personally understand what these characters are going through otherwise it’s impossible to form a connection to them.

The secondary storyline is the gay relationship between her brother Hale (David Joseph Craig) and his boyfriend Reece (Morgan Spector) which is put into jeopardy following the new direction of Anna and Will’s relationship and their own personal search for happiness. This is a more reasonable and understandable character journey for the film to tackle, but the turns in their relationship are easily predictable. Also don’t get fooled by Jason Sudeikis’ presence, he has a very minor role and can’t save this film from sinking by the weight of its drama.