Film Review: PERMISSION (USA 2016)

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Permission Poster

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.


Brian Crano


There are two categories of chick-flick romantic comedies – those made by female directors and those made by male directors.  The former category usually sees everything from the feminine perspective while glorifying the female while more often than not, debasing the male counterpart. 

PERMISSION, the new romantic comedy debut by writer/director Brian Crano belongs to the second category.  Like most films in this category the male filmmaker usually also takes the side of the female, giving them enough respect so as not to offend them.  In PERMISSION, the female is clearly the more mature and intelligent of the couple.  Since the film is written by a male, males cannot complain that this is a feminist film.

The film begins with a really short sex scene between the two leads.  Anna (Rebecca Hall) and Will (Dan Stevens) are very much in love and have great (if not, too short) sex.  Will intends to propose to Anna at her birthday celebrations at a bar with her brother, Hale (David Joseph Craig) and current male lover, Reece (Morgan Spector).  But that is impeded by the suggestion of Reece and Hale to have Anna “test date” other men before she ultimately settles down.  This results in the relationship turning open, meaning that Will can try other girls too. 

The couple faces the obvious problems that result in an accepted open relationship though the film and the couple insist that dating others does not constitute an open relationship.  My question to them is then: What then is an open relationship?  The problems include jealousy number one followed by number two, the craving for wanting for sex with strangers.  But the biggest danger of all is the probability that the stranger might be the better one to marry.  These are two human feelings that cannot be removed, and unless a couple can deal with these two issues, an open relationship or a closed relationship with allowance for multiple sex partners should not ever be considered.   Anna and Will together believe that their love for each other can conquer all.  So the rest of the film goes on to see whether love can.

Writer/director Crano’s film runs into many problems.  For one, the main premise of the couple is compromised by the introduction of Anna’s brother’s gay relationship.  Worst still, Crano inserts a problem into the gay couple’s relationship – the adoption of a child.  This distraction is boring and does not contribute to the main story at hand.  The four characters are all too nice and likeable.  The film would be more interesting if any one would be a complete asshole or one to be totally at fault.  Some of the humour makes no sense at all, as in Will spitting into his lover, Lydia (Gina Gershon) mouth, while high and having sex.

One good insight the film provides is that it shows the hurt the people go through as a result of such an experiment.  The film also surprisingly is almost saved by its ending.


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