It might sound incongruous, but writer-director Michael Irish’s Permanent Collection is a breezy drama. Neil (James Scott Patterson) is a perpetually downbeat cynic. He and his wife Lizzie (Macy Idzakovich) are never on the same page. For instance, when they are taking a taxi, the driver asks if he should take the bridge or the tunnel. Macy is about to give a firm answer, but Neil, visibly annoyed, states that it does not matter.
Unfortunately, the couple winds up in a car crash. Neil is relatively unscathed, but Lizzie is in a coma for a short period of time. While Neil spends as much time as possible at the hospital, he still heads to work and goes out to bars to try and blow off steam. At a bar, he meets Spoon (Naziah Black). She’s a spunky almost 20-year old, and the two hit it off right away. Macy eventually wakes up, only to discover she is partially paralyzed. As Macy begins rehabilitation, her estranged husband and Spoon bond over their pessimistic view of the world.
“As Macy begins rehabilitation, her estranged husband and Spoon bond over their pessimistic view of the world.”
There is a lot to appreciate about Irish’s second film, starting with his script. Admittedly, it does take a fair bit to understand what Neil and Lizzie ever saw in each other. However, once the layers of their relationship are uncovered, the audience becomes surprisingly invested. They are equally as engaged by Neil and Spoon’s ridiculous banter. As the two are (aimlessly?) walking about New York City, Neil complains about the current cost of a slice of pizza, $2.75, versus a dollar back in the day. Spoon tells him not to be “one of those people who complain about the price of pizza.” It feels very natural.
The characters are equally as realistic. Neil can be irritating at times, but his attitude comes from a genuine place, and he does show sparks of life. While attempting to get Lizzie to eat breakfast, he goofily places a piece of cereal atop of her head. Of course, Neil takes the joke too far, but it does showcase what they give to each other beautifully. Spoon is just as compelling, with her arc almost being devastating, but by the end of the movie, there’s a wistful hope for her.