Permission is dressed-up old news. The film looks good and the cast is hip, but the lengths the film will go to explore provocative themes within a relationship are much more common than the film believes.
The minds of Anna and Will (Rebecca Hall and Dan Stevens) begin to wander after an intimate dinner with friends trigger sexual curiosities. Not with thoughts about their dinner pals – a gay couple going through their own issues with commitment – but with a topic of sex that is brought up for small talk. A more mature, long-term relationship locks Anna and Will out from having sensual experiences with other people. A no-brainer, sure, but when spoken out loud, the reality hits Anna hard. The couple decides to “open up” their relationship meaning that, while they still love each other, they allow their partner to experiment with other flings.
Since Permission is maneuvering on treaded ground, the audience hopes the production will bring more to the table. This may explain why writer/director Brian Crano decides to populate the film’s story with other people besides Anna and Will. These tangents are supposed to acknowledge similarities faced by different relationships, but they don’t cohesively flow together as Crano hoped they would. In fact, many interactions play out like they belong in their own short film.
With this multitasking narrative being the only trick Crano has, Permission eventually runs out of stream. A last minute epiphany may be a surprise, but it’s introduced too late in a film that already feels meager and meaningless.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie