Plaintively attenuated for our times is the thoughtful, yet hardly melodramatic new film from Eliza Hittman.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always is kept at a very low boil to rely more on simplicity and honesty instead of getting overly political when it comes to abortion and those not yet of age.
It’s about the struggles to make a decision that entails much hardship and harassment while not neglecting the suffused hurt gravitating to it. Having thespians like Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder (to be seen later this year in an updated West Side Story) at Hittman’s disposal is crucial in their composed, committed portraits in dealing with plenty of obstacles, including financial and religious.
Flanigan’s rural Pennsylvania 17 year old Autumn finds herself in an unfortunate predicament. She’s 10 weeks pregnant and per state law needs parental permission to terminate the pregnancy. Thus, in making a such a momentous decision she sways close friend and cousin Skylar (Ryder) to trek to New York to have the medical procedure done unbeknownst to her family.
Though there isn’t much insight into Autumn, the approach by the director (and writer) allows for the nontransparent nature rendered by Flanigan to be representative of a run-of-mill confused teenager in a troubling situation. It turns out later on to be dramatically impactful from an apt imprint provided to that point.
You get the impression how intimidating and imperiling this endeavor can be in a fair-minded observational way with Autumn illegally funding it from her supermarket position. Sans credit cards and unable to phone home keeps them perched in disquietude.
In unhurried fashion a nuanced subroutine to reach this goal occurs in a fashion that isn’t about utilizing major narrative switches or theatrical flourishes. For that reason, a comparison can be made to the memorable thriller from Cristian Mungiu, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days or the mighty Mike Leigh drama Vera Drake where the act (in both cases) was illegal.
Insofar as the distaff is concerned the urgency of a non-fiction feature is felt even from considerate folks at a clinic that casts a harsh umbra on them. Whether at a high school gathering during a performance or from a meeting on Greyhound bus Theodore Pellerin evinces a certain eldritch unwieldy presence as Jasper who makes a play to Skylar – an intimate chronicle emerges. As Hittman works diligently with her technicians like lensing professional Helene Louvant.
Without very much being said Never Rarely Sometimes Always (the title comes up during a trimester meeting with a counselor) often expertly handles its hardship through a poignant reticence of shard, aching understanding.