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Tribeca 2017: Permission

Here's Jason Adams reporting from the just wrapped Tribeca Film Festival.

I really thought I knew what I was going to get going into Permission, Bryan Crano's light New York drama about love and relationships. The film stars Dan Stevens and Rebecca Hall as a pair of high school sweethearts deciding they need to find out what it's like to be with other people before they commit to each other for the rest of their lives. Don't you feel like you know what that movie's going to be after reading that description? 

And yet Permission knows what movie you think you're sitting down to watch, and so Permission goes out of its way to be sexier (this is a surprisingly sexy movie that takes full advantage of its very pretty people) and smarter and funnier and more inclined towards actually exploring these people and not using them as chessboard ciphers going through romantic motions on a prescribed route. It's like a romantic comedy before we had Rom-Coms.

In retrospect, given the cast Crano lined up, it should've been plainer that this movie would end up being more interesting than it seemed on the surface, because Dan Stevens and Rebecca Hall (and co-stars like Francois Arnuad and Gina Gershon - Gina Gershon for god's sake!) are, as gorgeous as they are, always more interesting than you think they'll be on the surface. Hall's hot off the performance of her career (so far) with last year's Christine and she turns in less eye-poppingly fresh but still interesting and purposefully uncertain work here; meanwhile Stevens is flying up the Hollywood totem pole but has still managed to keep some of that sincerity and strangeness about him, and he puts it to good work.

Really what works so well about Permission is its devotion to seeing all of these characters, even the farthest flung ones, through as rounded-out people - the messiness they find themselves enmeshed in plays out in genuine, unforced ways, and even when it gets sitcom goofy at times (a drug scene) it refrains from sanding off its own edges. We've all had our sitcom moments. Permission hangs around after the studio audience has gone home to stare at those boring yet inexplicably fascinating parts, too.

previous Tribeca reviews

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Reader Comments (5)

JA - I'm loving your reviews

May 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Thank you, Peggy Sue ;)

May 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Had no idea about this movie until just now, but I'd follow Dan Stevens into a burning dumpster after The Guest, so here we are.

May 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoe K

Dan Stevens is in another movie? I keep hearing about all these small projects he's doing and I'm like, wow, guy is busy. I'll have to check this one out.

May 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatt St. Clair

Still miffed that Rebecca Hall was snubbed for her magnificent performance in 'Christine.' She deserves more great roles.

May 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMike M.

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