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Never Rarely Sometimes Always – Movie Review

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Never Rarely Sometimes Always – Movie Review

Rating: A- (Great)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Universal Pictures

Getting pregnant can be a tricky event for any teenager and how they approach this can often depend on their environment. In exploring the topic, director/writer Eliza Hittman has opted for a realistic portrayal. The journey taken by Autumn and her supportive cousin Skylar allows us to truly get to know them and there’s an immediate sympathy towards them. Hittman doesn’t go for more dramatic scenes, instead preferring more down-to-earth moments that explore the difficulties they’re facing. Never Rarely Sometimes Always is an empathetic movie that doesn’t seek to lecture us on the topic of abortion and teenage pregnancies. It just wants to show what can happen.

Hittman makes the smart choice to hire two unknowns to portray Autumn and Skylar. Making their feature acting debut, Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder both give subtle performances. The film is surprisingly light on dialogue, instead allowing the actors to use their facial expressions to portray their feelings. We know exactly what’s going on in Autumn’s mind and how she is processing the events in front of her. Hittman cleverly uses a lot of close-ups and other visual hints to develop the characters and move their story forward. The movie includes elements that feel true to life and that adds to either the disgust or comfort these two are feeling in a given scene.

Some of the best scenes in Never Rarely Sometimes Always are set in the abortion clinics. Hittman captures the exact feel of a doctor’s office, especially with the sound effects. Anyone who has been in a waiting room will recognise the sounds. The actors playing the doctors are also spot-on, mirroring the friendly tone medical professionals will often convey to their patients. There are also scenes where Hittman really heightens up the uncomfortable nature of the situation. It’s difficult not to feel uneasy watching Autumn and Skylar at their supermarket job and the ways in which they are preyed on. These add to the tension when they arrive in New York City and make their way through the city.

Flanigan and Ryder come across as believable cousins and it’s wonderful to see the support Skylar has for Autumn. Too many films would try to create an overblown conflict to separate the two and Never Rarely Sometimes Always doesn’t do that. When they have their disagreements, it is realistic and even then, it doesn’t become that big of a deal. Hittman also extends certain scenes beyond how other movies might have done and these elevate the film a tad more. A scene where Flanigan has to answer a doctor’s questions takes us through the entire process. The longer it goes on, the more we see how difficult all of this is for her.

This is a movie that seeks to show not only a realistic portrayal of teenage pregnancy and the decisions that come with wanting an abortion, but also creates sympathy for this girl. We want everything to turn out okay for Autumn and want her to make the decision that feels right for her. Most films that center on abortion try to bring forth a stance on the practice, but Never Rarely Sometimes Always isn’t that kind of movie. One could argue that it’s pro-choice, but it doesn’t beat the audience over the head with this. It’s the kind of film that should be seen anyone who finds themselves in the same situation as Autumn.

Stefan Ellison