Permanent Record (1988)

Directed by Marisa Silver

Starring Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Rubin, Richard Bradford

There are movies that I remember from my childhood that I saw maybe on HBO mostly, some of them really stay in my memory. This is a movie that I remember seeing almost when the film was ending and I was left interested in it so one day I saw it in its entirety. I think is one the first films Keanu did, at least it came before Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. The main subject of the film is one that was present in one way or another in quite a few films I saw during the 80’s and 90’s. 

The first 20 or 30 minutes of the film is dedicated to David, he is a good son, a gifted student and, musician, he seems to have it all. He feels the pressure of writing the score for the school play, writing a song for his band to record and he is scared because he got accepted in a prestigious musical university. He also had a girlfriend but was seeing a girl on the side, he wanted everything to be perfect, but it just wasn’t and he decides to commit suicide. He does it by jumping off a cliff and he mailed a note to his best friend Chris letting him know how he felt and some music sheets for him to finish. 

Suicide is a theme on a few movies I remember, along with the difficulties of being a teenager. I remember the film Heathers, this one is a more sinister and dark view on the subject but a great film. Another movie I remember is Pump up the volume. This one stands out as it is directly about suicide. I like that the film does not glorify the actions taken by the character David, but at the same it does not make David a bad character or leaving the audience feeling anger or hatred toward the character, the only feeling the audience can get is sadness because in reality so many young kids with so much potential sometimes make this decision and that is always sad. I think the movie did a good job of showing how this affects those who stay behind. Keanu’s character Chris goes through stages of anger, confusion, and regret because he felt he should have known and should have helped him. 

The acting in the movie is not the best all around. I liked Reeves’s performance along with Richard Bradford who played the school principal. And Kathy Baker was very good in the few scenes she is in. The other characters were effective and the only other actor in the film other than Bradford and Reeves was Jennifer Rubin who appeared on Nightmare on elm street 3. 

One reason the movie stuck with me was because one scene Rubin’s character decides to sing a song Chris wrote with David’s music. They wanted to do something for David and to say goodbye and the school board said that they could not, so she decided in the school play to sing that song for her friends. The song was really touching and to this day I listen to it and get moved by it. The song was called Wishing on another lucky star” by J.D. Souther.

I can’t put the timeline together as to what year I saw the movie. But as I saw it, I think of one crucial moment for my generation and it was April 27th1994, the day Kurt Cobain shot himself. Just like David, he was talented, had a wife and a beautiful daughter and yet he felt lost. If anyone has not seen Montage of heck and is a fan of Cobain, I recommend it. 

I really pray for anyone considering suicide to find the help they need and for something to keep them from doing it. I like a quote from John Lennon: “while there is life there is hope”.

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