Though “Permission” is unrated, this relationship drama is for mature audiences only. It’s not just its intrinsic sexiness — it offers visual pleasure in equal measure — and it takes a grown-up approach to modern romance and its complexities.
With a relationship categorized by familiarity, Brooklyn couple Anna (Rebecca Hall) and Will (Dan Stevens) were each other’s first — and only — loves and have their routine down after a decade together. However, a conversation with Anna’s brother, Hale (David Joseph Craig), and his partner, Reece (Morgan Spector), persuades them to try experimenting with other people, and Anna and Will broaden their sexual résumés while remaining committed to one another.
Director Brian Crano’s charming script nails the specificity of each of its characters and their dialogue; it never seems like a screenplay written by a single person. Instead, each interaction between couples, lovers and friends feels like an authentic conversation. But Crano isn’t content to let his writing or even the talented cast do all the work; he pays a lot of attention to how each shot is framed, capturing these people and their city in impeccable, loving detail.
“Permission” asks difficult questions and doesn’t offer easy answers. But while it deals with heavy relationship issues including the validity of monogamy, it manages an easy, seemingly effortless humor that seduces the audience while simultaneously breaking filmgoers’ hearts.
Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Playing: AMC Sunset, West Hollywood; Arena Sunset Cinelounge, Hollywood