Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020) – Film Review

Never Dull, Rarely Tedious, Sometimes Excellent, Always Honest

Never Rarely Sometimes Always is one of those films that quietly captures your attention and refuses to relinquish its grip once you’re hooked. Taking an unflinching look at the world of teenage pregnancy, this Indie flick is never dull, rarely tedious, sometimes excellent and always honest. The tone and feel of the film plays on a very methodical, slow paced track and takes its time to get to the good stuff. If you can persevere through the slow opening, there’s a great film here that speaks volumes about the American healthcare system and the woes of teenage girls caught in this situation.

The story itself is very straight forward. 17 year old Autumn learns she’s pregnant and heads to a local clinic to try and work out what to do next. Determined to follow through with an abortion, she travels to New York from Pennsylvania with her cousin Skylar in the hope of seeking medical help. Along the way the two girls face hardships and this all leads to a thought provoking picture that certainly doesn’t shy away from the difficulties these two young girls face. While the ending may disappoint some people expecting more conclusive answers, this slice of life drama does well to keep things engaging right up until the last minute nonetheless.

The film title itself is certainly ambiguous and it’s not until midway through the second act that it starts to become clear what this means. While I won’t go into specifics surrounding this, suffice to say these scenes are incredibly raw and powerful, and easily the highlight of the entire film. They’re helped tremendously by some solid, raw acting by Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder who command the screen and give realistic performances throughout.

There’s a lot of themes and societal issues explored here but what’s particularly interesting is the way Director and writer Eliza Hittman leaves it up to the audience to figure out what’s going on. We’re not explicitly told who the Father of Autumn’s baby is but the aforementioned second act certainly hints at a dark past. Beyond this though is a profound amount of show don’t tell, with multiple quiet scenes showing more with the camera than dialogue ever could.

There’s a lot of scenes involving mirrors too – reflecting back Autumn’s view on the woes of the American healthcare system. Interestingly, there’s also a scene that shows a poster with the words “Love Child” on and while subtle, it’s a very clever bit of storytelling that’s worth acknowledging.

The entire film is built around an innate desire to make this journey as realistic as possible and those expecting a wild ride with comedy, romance, plot twists or thrills will almost certainly be left disappointed. Just like Rosie last year, Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a reflection of society as a whole and how scary and difficult it must be for teenage girls to go through this harrowing ordeal.

It won’t be for everyone and the slow pace sometimes holds this back from being a better title, but if you can take to the themes and ideas being explored, Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a film that’s likely to stick with you and a thought provoking ride well worth taking.

 


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