What happens when you’re in a romantic relationship, and everything is essentially fine, yet you’re plagued with questions of infinity? And what happens when two people are entirely in love with one another, yet find themselves wanting different things?
These are some of the questions explored in Permission, the second feature from writer/director Brian Crano, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday. The film follows a 30-something couple—Anna (Rebecca Hall) and Will (Dan Stevens), who, on the brink of getting married, wonder what it would be like to take some time apart and explore the world and new relationships on their own. The feature simultaneously deals with this relationship—sitting on a precipice—and a gay couple, who are going through their own challenges, considering the prospect of starting a family.
“At the time I started writing it, I just started having this conversation a lot with friends of mine, who were all in committed relationships and really loved the person, but also realized they were all about 30, and like, how is this supposed to last forever?” Crano explained, sitting down at Deadline’s Tribeca Studio with several of the film’s stars. “We’re children of divorce, and we know what statistics look like, and it’s very scary, and yet there’s something really romantic about being in that relationship, and committing to that idea.”
“So it was all about that,” he continued. “It was just figuring out how can you responsibly love someone, and say that you’re going to live up to that promise.”
Approaching the role, Dan Stevens (Legion, Beauty and the Beast) was turned on to Savage Lovecast—a podcast from author and media pundit Dan Savage—which became a defining influence in approaching his role. “It’s one of the most sort of eye-opening things I think anybody’s ever given me,” Stevens shared. “It’s like a sort of window onto a whole myriad of planets, sexual and otherwise, that people live on.”
“That’s on the poster: ‘Travel To A Different Sexual Planet with Brian Crano,'” the actor joked.
From the start, Permission was a family affair—stars Rebecca Hall and Morgan Spector are married in real life, though they are involved in separate, parallel relationships within the film—and Hall is a longtime friend of Crano’s.
For Hall, what was so resonant within the script was, again, the pertinent questions the film raises about modern relationships, but also the way in which the film depicts the female perspective on these matters.
“I suppose what fascinated me about it was, increasingly, one hopes [for] a society where whatever configuration of family you want to make is the one that’s right for you,” she said. “The question of female agency within relationships, I think, is something that I found really well mined in the script…I think there’s so much success or failure put on especially women, actually.”
To view Deadline’s conversation with the stars and director of Permission, click above. Upcoming screenings of the romantic comedy can be found here.