Permission (2017)

  • Time: 98 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama | Romance
  • Director: Brian Crano
  • Cast: Dan Stevens, Rebecca Hall, Jason Sudeikis


A woman on the brink of a marriage proposal is told by a friend that she should date other men before spending the rest of her life with her boyfriend.

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  • Relationship issues abound for two couples in Brian Crano’s romantic dramedy, Permission. For Will (Dan Stevens) and Anna (Rebecca Hall), the fissures are there from the start. They may constantly say “I love you” to one another, but the sentiment, whilst genuine, feels as routine as their lovemaking which, as witnessed in the opening scene, barely lasts half a minute from start to finish before they settle in with the remote.

    Will and Anna have been together for ten years, and he has plans to propose to her during her 30th birthday dinner, at which Anna’s brother Hale (David Joseph Craig) and his partner Reece (Morgan Spector), who works with Will, are also present. “First love and still together, never been with anybody else your entire lives,” Hale marvels of Anna and Will. Reece stirs the pot – Anna and Will love each other, they’re going to be with each forever and ever, so why not see what else is out there and have the experience? Will and Anna laugh it off, but the seeds of doubt have been sown not only for them but for Hale and Reece as well.

    Hale has always wanted to have a child; it’s a desire that’s been kept at bay by Reece but even more fueled by Hale’s friendly encounters with Glenn (Jason Sudeikis), a new dad whose infant son he brings to the park where Hale walks Anna’s dog. It’s not that Hale and Reece don’t love one another – they very much do – but Hale is beginning to realise that they are not on parallel paths. The same goes for Will and Anna – the latter warms to the idea of exploring other partners whilst the former is increasingly uncomfortable with Anna’s seeing other people, though he does his best to maintain a supportive facade and even does some exploring of his own with Lydia (Gina Gershon), a sexy older woman who allows him to indulge in fantasies he’s long kept inhibited.

    A relationship’s strength derives from a combination of factors and there will always be an imbalance. The sex may be pedestrian, but the laughs are plentiful. The romance may be on simmer, but the dedication to family is indestructible. Yet what Permission acknowledges more than anything else is that, whilst love might be the foundation, it’s the fulfillment of both individuals that provides the strength and longevity. For Will, Anna may be enough to achieve his version of happily ever after, but his version may not be the same as hers. Ditto for Hale and Reece.

    Crano doesn’t always put forth his ideas in a smooth way and the film’s third act frays, but his cast more than overcomes the script’s rough edges. Stevens and Hall, in particular, make Will and Anna an engaging and believable pair.

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