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Permanent Record
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Reviews & Ratings for
Permanent Record More at IMDbPro »

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18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Remarkable film with a remarkable heartfelt performance by Keanu Reeves

Author: clydestuff from United States
18 July 2003

Long before there was The Matrix, before there was a Bill and Ted, Keanu Reeves starred in Permanent Record, a movie that inexplicably has gone unnoticed. Permanent Record is a wonderful, moving, touching film about how one deals with those tragedies in life that have no explanation, and no matter how much we ask Why?, we know there will never be an answer to that question.

If you have never seen this film, my recommendation would be that the first time you view it, you watch it cold without knowing anything about what is to take place. That would mean not reading this review or any of the others posted here. After you have watched the film you will understand. The film begins as if you are watching any other film about teenagers, high school and their day to day lives. The two main characters are Chris (Keanu Reeves) and David (brilliantly portrayed by Alan Boyce), who are good friends. They play in a band together for which David is writing the music. David is a straight A student whom seems to have everything going for him. He is popular, he has been accepted into a major music college, he has a very loving, caring, wonderful set of parents (played by Barry Corbin and Kathy Baker), a younger brother who looks up to and admires him and a beautiful girl friend. Yet, we begin to see little things that hint there is something wrong in David's life. The first time you watch Permanent Record, like his family and friends, you may not even notice that things are not as perfect for David as they seem. We see the signs, but we ignore them or overlook them.

It is not long until one fateful night a tragedy occurs that will forever alter the way Chris along with his friends and classmates view their lives. We are there when it happens, along with Chris, yet like Chris, we don't actually see the event occur. At first, as Chris does also, we are sure it must have been an accident. We soon find out it was not. Instead David's family and friends are only left with questions How could this happen when David seemed to have everything going for him? Why did it happen? Couldn't they have seen it coming? Shouldn't they have been able to stop it from happening? They are questions for which there will never be any answers, not for us not for them. They must come to terms with what happens, without ever understanding. In the end that is what Permanent Record is about. There are so many things that happen in life which will be beyond our understanding or reasoning. We may look back angrily when we think about it, as Chris and his classmates surely will, as they learn their own lives are changed forever.

Keanu Reeves gives an emotional depth to his character that I have never seen him bring to any film since Permanent Record. He has all the characteristics of a typical High Scool boy down, yet we are able to see the pain he is going through, and we feel it as much as he does. Alan Boyce as David, plays him with such perfection, that even when he is no longer on the screen, that we miss him along with Chris, his parents and his classmates.

The last five minutes of this film are five of the most poignant minutes I have experienced in any film. It is a scene that touches at the very heart of this film. Though we may never understand many of the tragedies that occur in life, we remember those we have lost and the things they brought to us while they were here. Then, in the end, we must move on. Sometimes there just are no answers.

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14 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

I actually Cried!

Author: Romana-5 ( from Wisconsin, USA
20 October 2000

When I saw this movie in the video store, I thought, "Gee, this ought to be good for a few laughs." Well, I was right to some degree, since there is some humor in the movie, but I didn't count on the compelling story and even the fine performances. The movie is about a kid named David, who seems to have the perfect life. He has a loving family with a little brother who adores him, he is accepted to a great college, he is a musical director for the school's drama production, and his band just got the opportunity to record some of their songs. But he feels very pressured, and his best friend, played by Keanu Reeves, tries to get him to lighten up a little. What nobody knows is that David feels that he can't handle the pressure anymore. One night, at a party, David goes off to the cliffs by the ocean alone. Keanu follows, but when he goes to the area where David was just standing, David has disappeared, with nowhere he could have gone but down. Keanu's life starts going down the tubes, as he is the only one who knows that David didn't die in an accident, and that information is eating him up inside. When he finally tells David's parents, he thinks that things might start to go back to normal, but, suddenly, he is taking on the responsibilities that David has left behind, including writing the music for the band. The situation is at it's worst when Keanu is driving drunk and almost runs over David's little brother. As David's father is screaming at him for being so reckless, Keanu grabs him, starts hugging him, and, tearfully, says that he was David's best friend and should have been able to stop him. This scene literally brought me to tears, and I never would have thought that Keanu Reeves would ever be able to make me cry, even though I am a big fan of his. I think this is Keanu Reeves' best performance since "River's Edge". His portrayal of this character is basically the same as his portrayal of Ted Logan in the "Bill and Ted" movies, but with much more emotion and depth. The dramatic scenes, like when he throws a book through the principal's window, are done to perfection. He is completely believable as a confused teenager who suddenly finds himself alone without a best friend. The movie itself is an accurate reproduction of the effects of suicide on the people who are left behind: David's parents, brother, and friends. This is not a lighthearted film, but it is absorbing and actually makes you care about the characters. A definite must see.

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14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

No movie has ever quite affected me like this one.

Author: Greg Shaffer from Oshkosh, WI
3 August 2001

Permanent Record is one of those rare movies that doesn't feel like a movie; it feels like it could have been lifted straight out of your past. While most high school movies center upon the superficialities of High School life, Permanent Record goes right for the guts of it, knowing that there are no easy answers, no simple solutions.

As such, it represents not a single stitch of calculated drama, and doesn't even really have much of a plot, substituting that instead for a series of seemingly disconnected events that don't lead anywhere definite, but still manage to give off the distinct impression that none of the characters' lives will ever be the same as they were when the movie begins.

This isn't a movie you will watch if you want to be entertained. But it is a movie that, if you are prone to such behavior, you will be thinking about even years after having seen it. To that end, it is virtually unsurpassed.

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

An excellent, worthwhile movie

Author: Ms_Ada_Monroe from USA
13 July 2003

This movie was by far one of the best I've seen in quite some time. Keanu Reeves gives a very heart-felt performance while handling the things in the movie he has to handle. Also, there is some great singing in this movie. Jennifer Rubin's character sings a song at the end of the movie that I would love to be able to find. The singer, whether or not it truly is her, is terrific. The story line is serious, as is the movie, but anyone who wishes to see Keanu master his dramatic, sad role should definitely see this movie.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:


Author: mijbarrett from Los Angeles
31 January 2001

I first saw this film in the early '90's and found it to be one of Keanu's hidden acting treasures. I think the guy got a bit typecast with the BILL & TED thing. But as a man who's lost several loved ones to suicide, I found this film very true to form in its point-of-view of choice... focusing on the survivor. Another viewer who described the film as 'terrible' I think missed the point by looking for an 'explanation' for the suicide. After 23 years since my own mother's death to suicide, I can tell you that you never really know 'why'. I thought PERMANENT RECORD to be a bit of subtle brilliance in its focus on the stages of healing survivors go through... those of guilt, anger, shock, and finally acceptance. The film was made for a modest budget but, I felt, showcased some wonderfully understated and powerfully touching moments. Suicide is an emotionally perplexing issue. I salute the filmmakers for tackling it with such compassion and dignity

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Intense Movie

Author: Spookster1974 from Salt Lake City, Utah USA
21 May 2003

When I first saw "Permanent Record", I was on a psych unit, trying to regain control of my life as a teenager. It was a movie that they'd shown to us to kind of teach us a lesson about how our actions and decisions affect the people around us. I really enjoyed this movie and wouldn't mind adding it to my collection.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Loved it! A must see for Keanu fans!

Author: nickley20 from Virginia
18 January 2003

Ok so it is a 80's flick and it shows, but all in all it is a great movie. I am a big fan of Keanu Reeves, I rented every movie the guy did. This movie is hard to find, but it is worth a search to find. It is a great heart catcher. And for all the girls who love Keanu will rewind over and over again to see the heart wrentching scene of him crying. I loved every bit of this movie.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Actually a pretty decent movie

Author: ladylynch
29 May 2004

Well . . .this was a complete fluke for me. I was at K-Mart with a friend, and I saw this for $3.49. I figured you could hardly rent a movie for that, and the plot interested me. Having lost a friend to suicide myself, I found the movie to be very honest and real in its emotion and messages. While some of the acting was pretty B-grade, it wasn't that bad considering the obviously low budget. AND I'm shocked to say Keanu Reeves wasn't at all bad--in fact, he was quite good (and I'm not a fan)! Overall, I'd definitely recommend this movie and say it was well worth the money I paid--in fact, I'd have paid more. I'm really pleasantly surprised (for once) and glad I got the movie.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:


Author: Michelle Roberts ( from Edinburgh, Scotland
21 March 2004

This film was way ahead of its time. In this day and age, teenage suicides happen often, and appear in the press. This is a movie, set in the 80s, and really has a powerful effect on you. To start with, I was trying to figure out why the main character decided to kill himself. It never really says. But the movie concentrates more on what David's close friends feel on his suicide. The film focuses heavily on Keanu Reeves character, Chris. He features in some of the film's most powerful scenes, and although he plays his Ted character, goofy and gangly, he really acts his socks off. He also features in an almost painful crying scene.

There's a terrific song, which unfortunately isn't available. It's worked on throughout the film, but it really comes to light towards the end. It's called "Wishing On Another Lucky Star", performed by J.D. Souther.

This is a very powerful movie, although it didn't leave much of an effect on me. I was expecting it to leave me with something at the end of the movie, but this kinda movie has been done better in recent years - The Virgin Suicides for example.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

My Take on Permanent Record's message

Author: Purgatori1 from United States
4 September 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I wished they'd shown this movie in my HS after a female student committed suicide, I think it would have helped us move on. Especially since that is really what this movie is about: the process of healing after the loss of someone. I found this movie to be touching, realistic, and enveloping. Allow me to explain. I was touched by the character development. I found the process of the healing to be very realistic. And because I could identify with what some of the characters were going through, I found it enveloping. Some of Keanu Reeves best work is in this film. Chris' breakdown in the Dad's arms is one of the best scenes in the whole film. On top of all that, to this day, when Jennifer Rubins sings at the end, I cry. Every time. Now, whenever I need a pick-me up, I sing that song.

On a side note, I would probably have liked this movie even if it hadn't been filmed partly in my hometown.

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