Directed by: Brian Crano
Run Time: 1h 36min
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
By: Shari K. Green
3 1/2 Frames out of 5
The term, ‘You always want what you can’t have.’ may come to mind while watching this wickedly terrific and uncommon film, written and directed by thirty-five-year-old, Brian Crano. Crano hasn’t a large amount of work behind him but I have a sneaking suspicion this will change after Permission gets around.
Don’t make the mistake of missing this. It may seem like it could be a boring story of the typical relationship gone wrong by the trailer, but it is anything but typical. What Crano offers is a striking contrast to ordinary. The trailer, using hot pink neon letters throughout, making it appear as though the film were light and heavily comedic in nature, downplays what is. Behind the glitz of this trailer is a well-structured, deep and perplexing movie. It pulls you in with an outstanding setup and a brilliant cast of characters, right from the get-go.
In Permission, we meet and get entangled in the lives of Will (Stevens) and Anna (Hall) who are one another first love. We are shown that their sex life has become very familiar and routine and as Will and Anna speak to her brother Hale (Craig) and his lover Reece (Spector) about their relationship, the length of time they’ve been together comes up. Reece finds it almost unacceptable that the two have been together since childhood, never having an opportunity to get to know what it’s like to not only engage mentally with another person for it to be too meaningful outside of friendship, but also physically be with another person. Reece puts it out there to them that they truly must live a little. Almost immediately, Will and Anna begin to wonder if the other person wants to be with someone else, perhaps has wanted to all along. Since they’re about to move in together, they agree that they should both open their relationship so they can have experiences they’ve never had and agree to have sex with other people. There are rules put in place and you, the audience member, will slap your head and wonder what will become of them once they start this foolishness.
Quietly and sweetly, Crano has gotten you very attached to these characters. You want the best for both of them and you question their judgment… which is what makes the film so riveting. Permission breaches such a taboo subject that while you’re watching, you feel somewhat uncomfortable. You want them together and hope that at the end of the film, they will be.
Soon after the decision to be with other people has been reached, Anna meets Dane (Arnaud) a composer who shares her passion for music like no one ever has. This can’t be good. Anna stays in touch with Will through text the entire time she’s with Dane and feels somewhat guilty for enjoying herself but enjoys herself she does… maybe too much.
Will can’t bring himself to find someone right away but is eventually seduced by a sexy, older woman named Lydia (Gershon) who wanders into his shop and finds him attractive… she wants him. She takes control and once she gets her hands on him, he has no choice in the matter. Unlike the more loving and meek Anna, she is wild in bed and she allows him to do to her a certain act that he’d never ask Anna to go through with. He’s thrilled but also confused. Not only has he kept sexual desires from Anna, he keeps having sex with Lydia, too, breaking their agreement. Anna finds out and isn’t happy he’s being secretive but she breaks the rule, as well. She has been seeing Dane on a regular basis.
Permission is magnificent, filled with brave, strong characters. It’s an honest look at what happens when people have no experience with life and love, craving it for the first time. It sneaks in a lesson of what it takes to stay but also what it might take to bow out. You will care deeply for Anna and Will and you’ll find yourself chomping at the bit, nervously, awaiting the outcome of the yarn. It’s quite a reaction to the truth coming from their finally being open to change. Well done, Brian Crano. Bravo! You have made an intriguing, beguiling film that will live on for a long time. It’s as touching as it is agonizing and I anticipate those who see this will eagerly await your next project.