Permanent Record (1988)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Permanent Record Photos

Movie Info

High school student Alan Boyce has it all: looks, charm, popularity, excellent grades, a promising future. So why does Boyce abruptly commit suicide? As the shock waves of the boy's death reverberate through the halls of his school, the other students--particularly Boyce's best friend Keanu Reeves--ask themselves if they, too, are capable of self-destruction. As for the adults, Boyce's suicide is one more of a myriad of mysteries concerning "Generation X" (though it was not yet so labelled in 1988). While the film offers no easy answers, either for the characters or the audience, Permanent Record ultimately demonstrates that there are ways to cope with the pressures of life other than taking one's own life. An added bonus: the teenagers in the film act like genuine teenagers, not like TV sitcom wisecrackers or oversexed cretins.
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In Theaters:
Paramount Pictures

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Alan Boyce
as David Sinclair
Keanu Reeves
as Chris Townsend
Richard Bradford
as Leo Verdell, Principal
Dakin Matthews
as Mr. McBain, Drama Teacher
Barry Corbin
as Jim Sinclair
Kathy Baker
as Martha Sinclair
Joshua Taylor
as Lee Sinclair
Sam Vlahos
as Mr. Townsend
David Selberg
as Dr. Moss, School Superintendent
Ron Jaxon
as Woody
Paul Ganus
as Randy
Phil Diskin
as Security Guard
Lou Reed
as Himself
Mark Springer
as Sailors Audition
Garrett Lambert
as Producer
Carolyn Tomei
as Chemistry Teacher
Ron Jaxson
as Woody
Jan Merlin
as Minister
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Critic Reviews for Permanent Record

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (6)

Pic is populated by profoundly unrewarding characters doing and saying utterly uninteresting things.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

A well-intentioned study of high-school kids coping (and not coping) with the pressures of adolescence, its naturalistic style only makes the more overt dramatic elements look forced and clichéd.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The implacable earnestness laid on by the script, which it took three people to put together, is not relieved by the nonstop songs, from rock-and-roll to Gilbert and Sullivan.

Full Review… | May 21, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

To describe the opening scenes makes them seem routine, and yet they captured my attention with an intensity that I still do not understand.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Good intentions and seriousness aside, it's not much of anything -- not terrible, but not terribly engaging or illuminating either.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

A lot of talented people, ranging from Eraserhead's cinematographer (Frederick Elmes) to Choose Me's costume designer (Tracy Tynan), contributed to this muck.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Permanent Record


Between a 6/10 and 7/10, this isn't much more than a conscientious TV-movie drama, with a rather maudlin climax, but the performances are solid.

Lee Mayo
Lee Mayo

Many films and television series have tackled the issue of teen suicide over the years, but few have done so with the grace and dignity of "Permanent Record". This is a little seen, deeply moving feature that deserves a wider audience. It gives little clues into why the Allan Boyce character here commits suicide, and it doesn't purport to have all the answers. That only enhances the film's realism. In the opening scenes, Keanu Reeves is distracting as he was seemingly prepping for his next big role in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure", but there is a lot more going on with his character than meets the eye. His affecting performance is the dramatic center of the picture, and you greatly sympathize with him. I also appreciated the adults in the film, especially Richard Bradford as the school's principal. It would be easy to make him and the parents the enemy here, but they are grieving too and actually understand the students. There is a wonderful scene where an anguished and intoxicated Reeves nearly kills Boyce's younger brother and he finally breaks down to his friend's father. The drama culminates in the film's final scene at the school play, where a fragile and delicate Jennifer Ruben breaks character and pays beautiful tribute to her fallen friend, and it's the highlight of the actress' burgeoning career. The subject is stale, but "Permanent Record" has a fresh voice that remains as impactful today as it was upon its initial release. It's a small film that will stay with you.

Timothy Sanders
Timothy Sanders

wow. im surprised more people dont talk about this movie, i guess maybe many haven't seen it? its quite good and keanu gives a very strong, heartfelt peformance. if people dont think he can act, they should really see this movie.

Anna Bartsch
Anna Bartsch

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