On the Brink
Anna (Rebecca Hall) is turning forty-years-old and her boyfriend, Will (Don Stevens) is ready to propose to her. But during a birthday lunch, their gay friends Hay (David Joseph Craig)and Reece (Morgan Spector) suggest something unusual – that Anna should date other men before spending the rest of her life with her boyfriend… At first, it seems that, Anna did not really pay attention to what her friend said. Anna used to play the piano. She loves her life and agrees on a polygamous relationship after discussing it with William. Will also seems to not mind and allows his girlfriend to embark herself in another relationship with a man whose romantic nature, musical skills and breakfast in bed turns her into a new person, a person that she starts liking more than before. William also starts dating one of his clients, a divorced woman, Lydia (Gina Gershon), who tries to unlock in William the lover he always wanted to be. Both Anna and William give each other permission to explore each other’s unknown parts, hoping it will deepen their relationship. And it does, but not in the way both expected.
Hay and Reece have their own challenges as both try to find the reason to strengthen their relationship. Hay believes that by adopting a child it will help their family to grow. And when Hay meets Glenn (Jason Sudeikis) in the park who nurses a baby, he also realizes his own future that he hardly will change his mind.
“Permission” begins like a comedy and turns into a romantic film and a drama. It has a mix of three genres while it explores a realistic relationship between a couple that one day can bore each other to death. William and Anna are such rich and honest characters but no matter how good they are together, something is missing in their relationship and William, who quickly loses the priority status in Anna’s life with the appearance of Dane, whose relationship William himself agreed to. We see what can happen if one plays with feelings and freedom. We see that each man is different and that each woman delivers a different type of relationship.
Brian Crano’s screenplay flips the script on traditional gender roles. With Anna and Will, this comes as she learns that he has only slept with her during a dinner with their longtime friends and couple in their own right, Reece and Hale (David Joseph Craig). The revelation doesn’t exactly faze Anna, who has tired of having unexciting sex with Will, but it sparks the notion that he might need some practice before they move in together to the brownstone that Will is refurbishing during his off-hours. “Permission” takes the discontent of its characters seriously and highlights the different attitudes towards the experiment based on the characters’ chromosomes- – Anna’s fine with Will sleeping around so long as he tells her about it while Will’s accepting of the arrangement, but actively doesn’t want to hear about Anna’s exploits. The film also successfully takes on a larger cultural question as the characters start wondering if their individual satisfaction is more important than what they have and can build together with a partner.
Not everything in “Permission” works. The parallel story of the gay couple, Reece and Hale who are at odds over whether to adopt a child is intriguing, but isn’t on the level of Anna and Will’s storyline.