NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS
Whether you are in support of, or against, a woman’s right to chose, Never Rarely Sometimes Always stirs up your emotions, and probably not good ones. The spectrum of feelings range from sadness, frustration, pissed off, bored, anger, and sadness (sadness deserves to be listed twice, maybe anger too, anger with the whole system).
Never Rarely Sometimes Always is about seventeen-year-old Autumn (Sidney Flanigan, her first movie) finding herself pregnant in a small Pennsylvania town. Autumn has no parental support and lives with a suspect stepdad. She works as a cashier but has no money. What does she does know – she knows she does not want to be a mother.
The local clinic cannot help her without parental consent. The clinic probably gives her inaccurate information, pushes adoption, and shows high impact videos about what happens during an abortion. Desperate, Autumn and her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder, soon a Jet in West Side Story) bus to Manhattan for an abortion.
The film shows their risks, compromises, intimidation, humiliation, and pain they go through in Manhattan. The clinic offers help, but the seventeen-year-old Autumn turns it down, overwhelmed with the whole process. The problems and risks they encounter are not due to being in Manhattan. The City is not the bad player in this movie. The problems arose because two teenagers must take unnecessary risks to obtain a medical procedure. All the risks and problems seem real. The friendship and the actions taken by the two women, Autumn and Skylar, seem very genuine, age appropriate, and sad.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always is an Indie film, slow and deliberate. The acting is low-key, relying heavily on facial expressions and a lot of closeups. Autumn has one dramatic scene when she answers personal questions about her lifestyle. “Please answer with one of the following answers: never, rarely, sometimes, always.” Autumn’s expressions while trying to answer shows that she can act.
Eliza Hittman wrote and directed Never Rarely Sometimes Always. Hélène Louvart is the cinematographer. The music throughout is by Julia Holter (I’m not counting the karaoke music). Final song during credits Staring at a Mountain by Sharon Van Etten. A wholly women’s effort.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always successfully makes a statement about the horrors encountered when young pregnant women have no support.
This is a serious and genuine drama that will lead to discussions. Never Rarely Sometimes Always is great for a slow Wednesday night movie, not an end of the week Friday or Saturday night movie.
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