I didn’t watch Dan Stevens’ new movie, Permission, just to get a better look at the tattoo on his rib cage. Okay, maybe I did. I’m none the wiser on the tattoo, but the movie was equal parts endearing & poignant. I enjoyed it very much.
Anna (Rebecca Hall) and Will (Dan Stevens) have been dating since their first year of college. They were each other’s first kiss, first sexual experience, first (and only) everything. As Anna gets ready to turn 30 years old and Will prepares to officially ask her to marry him, a drunken friend points out that they’ve only slept with each other. How can they be sure they really want to spend the rest of their lives together, if they’ve never experienced anyone else? This causes Will to hesitate and postpone his plan to propose, while Anna suggests they sleep with other people, because ‘sex is just sex’.
I’m sure you can see where this is going: awkwardness and heartbreak. Why would I want to subject myself to that? Especially when Will looks like such a cuddly teddy bear!
But it is Dan Stevens. I’ve grown to trust that his choices will be thought provoking or outside of the box in some form. So the day the movie became available to view, I debated for about 10 minutes before giving in.
Why I like this movie is hard for me to articulate. The story goes in the direction I thought it would, but how it got there exceeded my expectations.
It was funny in some areas: Will sleeps with an older woman who wandered into his woodworking shop. Lydia (Gina Gershon) is kooky, free spirited, and endearingly likable. Will’s naivete and her ‘anything goes’ personality lead to some cute and funny interactions.
Contemplative in others: The drunken friend is Will’s business partner, who happens to be in a same-sex relationship with Anna’s brother, Hale (David Joseph Craig). One of them can’t stop thinking about becoming a parent, while the other won’t even entertain the idea. Their scenes together are both beautiful and heartbreaking.
The color palette was serene: Sparsely decorated apartments in cool colors, an abundance of scarves and hats and fluffy blankets that add warmth in sweet moments, sensual skin shots that enhance the storytelling instead of exploiting it.
The acting enjoyable: Francois Arnaud as Dane, the heart-on-his-sleeve musician. He’s the other man who doesn’t know he’s the other man. He’s emotionally brave and has a really nice singing voice. I liked him much more than I wanted to.
The situations were awkward: Will tagging along as Anna and Dane get to know each other, Hale’s attachment to the sleep deprived father and baby that he meets at the dog park, when Lydia had much more planned for Will than just delivering a table.
The visuals were beautiful: The intimate scenes between Hale and Reece (Morgan Spector), Anna rediscovering her love of piano in Dane’s dimly lit apartment, the Christmas tree in the window of the brownstone Will renovated for Anna.
I liked all of the characters and just wanted to give each of them a hug! But when Will realizes that for he and Anna to grow, they need to do it apart? The tears!
I would have preferred an ending with more resolution. If not one where loose ends were tied up, at least one that suggested a direction for each character to go. Luckily, I’m a master daydreamer…
P.S.- Will owns a woodworking shop and is renovating a Brooklyn brownstone as a gift for his girlfriend. I know I said that already, but it’s worth mentioning again.