[Editor: At the time of this Press Screening the intended release date for this movie was to be Friday, March 20, 2020. However, due to the unforeseen complications due to COVID-19 “Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always” has had its release date postponed to a currently undetermined date. Once we learn of the date we will re-share this review along with the new release date on throughout the various social media platforms. Thank you.]
There are some films you go to wanting to be entertained only. There are others that carry such a profound message that the viewing of them is about the emotional weight that the film carries and the concepts it explores. Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always is the latter film, with the film exploring the concept of a young girl dealing with an unwanted pregnancy and the steps she takes on that journey. I found myself heartbroken by the choices this young woman faces, knowing that all women face some of these ideas at some point in their lives. But I also was just amazed by the performances of both leads as well as engaged in the ideas this film explores.
Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always is a 2020 American-British drama film written and directed by Eliza Hittman. It focuses on two young cousins from Pennsylvania, Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) and Skylar (Talia Ryder), who travel to New York after Autumn faces an unwanted pregnancy. Ryan Eggold and Sharon Van Etten also star as Autumn’s parents. The film explores the challenges that Autumn faces, both opposition and those who are willing to help her, including her cousin Skylar.
This is a deeply intense and emotional film, with a weighty topic so watching it may not be easy but one of the elements that enhance the film is the performances. Both young actors demonstrate through their acting how difficult Autumn’s home life is as well as the challenges she faces at work. Some of the more emotional moments hone in on the just the subtlest expressions on either actress’ face, like a flicker of guilt from Talia Ryder when she has a fight with her cousin or just the exhaustion they both imbue into their movements after both young women are supposed to have been awake for two days. Without stellar performances, this film would lose some of the emotional weight but both women have such incredible chemistry and perfectly portray young women in the modern-day still facing some of the same struggles that women of all ages have experienced.
Another element that brings the movie such focus is the writing. The film focuses on Autumn and Skylar. While it mostly deals with Autumn’s pregnancy, it also brings to light the emotional and sexual harassment and abuse that many women face day-to-day. The title of the film is incorporated into a discussion that Autumn has in which a counselor attempts to ensure what she has faced in her life. Unfortunately, some of the answers are those that many women have experienced and that is part of why this film is so dynamic and emotional. It touches on the most intimate moments in a woman’s life but it is moments that we all can empathize with. While it may be difficult to watch, I not only learned far more about these challenges but it may give women the opportunity to see they are not alone. I will state if you have encountered this type of situation, this might be one that could set off triggers, though.
The film also does an excellent job of exploring how well organized and well thought out Planned Parenthood is. The film demonstrates that the councilors ensure that girls who go there are safe, not under coercion to have an abortion or not have an abortion. They ensure the girls can afford the services and help them with the insurance. They also are there with counseling and safety. Frankly, the level of support clearly shows that they help women, not just ones in Autumn’s situation but also with basic health services and women in abusive situations.
While I did find the film informative and compelling, there were moments when the film was slower and not clear. I found that I wasn’t clear on who Skylar was or even her name until partway through the film. Part of what made the film slow was that the film does a lot with showing the actions through the performance of the actresses but there are also moments when there is zero dialogue and not much happening. It happens to be very realistic in its portrayal but that leaves information unclear and makes it difficult to follow at times.
Overall, if you like beautiful performances and a story that packs heart into every scene, this movie might be for you. It is heartbreaking but empowering as well with powerful performances by both young women. The actresses and rest of the cast illustrate why health services are so vital and aid for women from every level of society is crucial. If you’ve dealt with these issues in your life, you will find empathy for these young women. More importantly, it will give men a glimpse into what it’s like to be female in this modern society and how much further society has to go to support women fully. Be aware that this is a very emotional subject but I found it informative and it touched my heart.
Rating: 4 out of 5 subway rides.
Official Website: https://www.focusfeatures.com/never-rarely-sometimes-always