Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Talking Tribeca: Permission

I’ve had the pleasure of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place April 19th-April 30th.

Directed by Brian Crano
Festival Screenings

There comes a point in any relationship that lasts for a long period of time that one or both parties wonder - if only for a fleeting moment - what it might like to be with someone else. When two people have only ever been with each other, the notion seems impossible, but, when pondered, can cast doubt on the viability of a relationship. As long as both parties agree they are happy, they usually move on, leaving the concept of a free pass just to see what being with someone else would be like as an ill-advised suggestion that no one should ever take seriously.

Will (Dan Stevens) is about to propose to his girlfriend Anna (Rebecca Hall) on her thirtieth birthday. They've been together forever, never really having dated anyone else, and he spends a good deal of time working on the brownstone that he's bought for the two of them. An alcohol-fueled question from Reece (Morgan Spector), the partner of Anna's brother, Hale (David Joseph Craig) inspires them to consider giving harmless sex with strangers a try, which threatens to turn into something else when they each meet someone where it might become more than just a sexual attraction.

“Permission” starts out as a more sophisticated version of “Hall Pass” (amusingly, Jason Sudeikis has a small part in this film), but with less infantile excitement. Both Anna and Will are reticent about beginning this journey, and Will is present when she meets her first choice, Dane (François Arnaud). When his selection, Lydia (Gina Gershon), is made without her knowledge, the problems start to emerge and this film leans towards drama when what was an awkward suggestion capable of producing plenty of comic moments – which it does – may have broader, more irreversible consequences for their previously impermeable relationship. A subplot involving Hale’s desire to have a baby, not shared by Reece, explores the further longevity of a relationship that seemed perfect at the outset.

Hall and Stevens are both young actors currently appearing in plenty of projects, with Hall starring in a number of independent films including last year’s “Christine” and Stevens following up on “Downton Abbey” with another TV show, “Legion.” They’re both more than suited for their roles, demonstrating a stagnant, stable romance that is elevated by the passion they experience with Dane and Lydia, portrayed wonderfully by Arnaud and Gershon. This movie is a comedy and also a cautionary tale of sorts, one that might be warning just as much that an experiment like this isn’t a smart idea as it is commenting that it’s important to have the big conversations to make sure both members of a couple are on the same page.


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