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Permanent Record Reviews

In PERMANENT RECORD, director Marisa Silver's second feature, teenage characters struggle with the pressures of living and with a popular, bright kid's suicide. The movie presents a group of high school friends who spend their time doing usual teen things. All are involved in a school production of Gilbert and Sullivan's "H.M.S. Pinafore." David Sinclair (Alan Boyce) has the most responsibility, arranging the music charts for the production. He is also working toward a college music scholarship and writing a song for his band's big recording date (where real-life rocker Lou Reed makes a cameo). When he jumps from a cliff to his death, his best friend, Chris (Keanu Reeves), experiences an extended crisis of guilt, grief, and anger. PERMANENT RECORD is a clumsy film that, in spite of itself, at times manages to be quite powerful. Its opening half hour is an attempt at naturalism that degenerates into tedium. The movie doesn't really start until after Boyce's character commits suicide, and the film's remaining power is in Reeves' performance. The rest of PERMANENT RECORD simply falls flat, with Richard Bradford as the school principal proving the only other major character able to rise above the treacly surroundings.