Overly Reductive Plot Summary
A pair of groupie friends follow around a mildly talented, mildly popular, majorly douchey psychedelic band in 70's England. The groupies live with the painfully modest hopes of sleeping with each member of the band before they get kicked to the curb (there's only so much room in the tour van).
Being the bleakest portrait of rock life ever painted. There are plenty of warts-and-all films in this vein. Permissive is the first warts-only depiction.
A lot of guitar walking. Just, so very much guitar walking.
The Entire Film In 3 Images
Elements Of The Film (Ranked On A Glad We Weren't There Scale of 1 to 5)
- The venues are half full. The band never graduates from their van. Half the time, they're staying with relatives because even the lowest rent motels want nothing to do with them. This is the story of the women who want to sleep with these perennial losers.
- Being the lowest-ranking groupie, our heroine Suzy has to wait her turn for access to the concrete loading dock so she can have a go at orally pleasing a band member, should they deign her worthy.
- The only character who treats Suzy with any respect is hit by a car and killed. Oops. Spoiler alert.
- A couple of hours after the death, Suzy's best friend Fiona says, "Well, you better snap out of it for a start. The graveyards are full of indispensable people." After a moment, she adds, "Look, I have to go."
- When Suzy finally bags the final member of the band, it turns out that Fiona is in love with him. Suzy later finds Fiona with her wrists slashed, bleeding to death in a hot bath. Their eyes lock and Suzy leaves her to die without so much as a word.
Would You Have Been Proud If This Were Your Film?
No. Not really. While a movie with a bleak worldview is always fun to watch, characters without opinions, drives or moral compasses are too easy to write. While this might be a challenge for the audience to watch, it wasn't particularly a challenge to conceive or execute.
Sex, drugs and rock & roll - if ever there was a film with exploitation trappings, this is it. But, exploitation films are so named because they exploit the subjects for audience enjoyment. Permissive trains its lens on a group of people who strive to spend every day of their lives at rock bottom, the only place they're sure that nobody will question or challenge their infinitesimal ambitions.
The story doesn't aim to entertain or titillate with its on-the-edge subject matter. It isn't done to glamorize, judge or even as a parabolic warning. It's just a dark dark film about people in dark dark places. Take it or leave it.