Review: Permission (2018) 'Rebecca Hall and Dan Stevens explore other options in genuine film'


Joseph Friar

By Joseph Friar
Feb. 9, 2018 at 10:54 a.m.

Review: PERMISSION (2018)
Rebecca Hall, Dan Stevens, Jason Sudeikis, Gina Gershon, François Arnaud.  Directed by Brian Crano

This weekend scores of hopeless romantics and steamy adventurers while storm the multiplex to view the final exploits of Anastasia and Christian.  I understand.  Valentine’s Day is around the corner and there are signs of it everywhere.  How about a realistic love story complete with genuine characters, great performances, erotic episodes, and plenty of laughs?  “Permission” should be on your viewing list this weekend.  Rebecca Hall and Dan Stevens deliver solid performances as a couple who decide to sleep with other people before taking their relationship to the next level.  When has that ever worked out? Exactly. 

Anna (Rebecca Hall) and Will (Dan Stevens) have been together for over 10 years.  It’s evident they love each other even though they aren’t married.  All of that is about to change when Will decides it’s time to pop the question.  He buys an engagement ring and invites another couple, his best friend and business partner Reece (Morgan Spector) who is in a relationship with Anna’s brother Hale (David Joseph Craig), to join them for dinner which will culminate with Will’s proposal.  

The night doesn’t go exactly as planned when Reece brings up the fact that Anna and Will have never slept when anyone else.  He can’t image going through life with only one sex partner and so he encourages the couple to sample the menu before committing to the same meal for the rest of their lives.  The wine flows, everyone laughs, but Will is obviously thrown back by Reece’s comments so he skips the proposal.  

The dinner was to celebrate Anna’s 30th birthday which coupled with the fact that she’s never had another sex partner prompts her to suggest they try out sleeping with other people.  Will is game and so they head out to the club to find suitable partners.  Anyone who’s seen “Hall Pass” can guess how this is going to work out.  Anna has no problem meeting someone who in this case just happens to be a hot musician named Dane (Francois Arnaud).  Eventually, Will hooks up with a sexy divorcee named Lydia (Gina Gershon) who wonders into to the handmade furniture shop he owns with Reece.  She’s a rich beautiful older woman who buys a table just to lure Will over to her penthouse.  He delivers in more than one way and they begin seeing each other. 

The film also explores a conflict between Reece and his partner Hale who wants to adopt a baby.  Reece is totally against the idea of bringing a child into their relationship while Hale is at the point of going it alone as a single dad if Reece doesn’t jump onboard.  Jason Sudeikis has a cameo as a single father named Glenn who takes his newborn baby to the park where he meets Hale and they begin a friendship.  Glenn lends an ear to Hale who gets to hold Glenn’s baby while they chat.  The scenes are honest and developmental to Hale’s character. 

The idea of “let’s test our relationship by sleeping with other people” is nothing new but Crano’s screenplay brings a fresh take to the dilemma thanks to the interesting characters and this appealing cast.  Never once does the film feel artificial and Rebecca Hall is fantastic.  Does it all work out in the end?  You may be surprised.  If you really want to be “Freed” from portrayals of artificial romance then check out "Permission” this weekend. 

(3 stars)
Now playing at the Galaxy Highland 10 (Austin) and available VOD.



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