Never Rarely Sometimes Always is the kind of movie that you hope the people making key decisions are watching. Centred around a young girl trying to get an abortion, the movie is a brutally real look at the difficulties she faces in doing so, from keeping it a secret from a disapproving family, the lengths to travel to a location where the procedure can take place and the dangers of being a young girl with little support, in a big city. The fact that this movie is set in the America makes it even more shocking.
The pace and matter-of-fact way that the movie plays out is its biggest strength. There is no huge dramatic moment, where someone spells out the issues and the how it could be resolved. Instead, the audience is expected to piece this together for themselves, watching as Sidney Flanigan’s Autumn discovers she is pregnant and then tries in vain to find out how to have the baby aborted. From the beginning, the obstacles to this procedure are clear and although people seem to be trying to be supportive, its the lack of understanding for the young girl’s predicament that highlights the plight even more.
When Autumn makes the decision to secretly go to New York, where the procedure can take place without needing her parent’s permission, the movie becomes something much more tense and uncomfortable. Although this movie is clearly making comment on the difficulties facing young people with unwanted pregnancies, it also touches upon the dangers of being a young girl alone at night, looking for places to stay, relying on the kindness of others or using femininity to get what you need. The experiences of both Autumn, and the cousin who goes with her, Skylar, played by Talia Ryder, have you unnerved throughout even though they are portrayed as painfully commonplace and “normal” for these girls.
When it does focus on the abortion process, it does so with agonising realism. The lack of medical support for those with no insurance is highlighted clearly here and Autumn’s experience is one that should not be done alone but is presented as factually as possible. Alongside the physical aspects, the mental health and social support scene is summed-up perfectly in an exchange that gives the movie its title. Never leaving the face of Flanigan, it is a masterclass in acting. Each question has a one word answer but what is left in the pauses, the hesitations and the nuanced facial expressions completes the picture the rest of the movie only hints at.
The movie is held high on the shoulders of Flanigan and Ryder and they do a fantastic job. The film feels very real because they play it as such. No grandstanding or huge, explosive scene but small moments of support, fear or relief do more here than any huge dramatic moment could.
Overall, Never Rarely Sometimes Always is the kind of film that should illicit change. Its brutal, agonising realism demonstrates what a cold experience young women, who live in the “wrong area,” face when needing an abortion. Add to this other uncomfortable experiences for the young women as the film plays out and you get a movie which simply lets the actions of the characters relay how important change is for many aspects of American culture.
Rating – 4
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)
As always get in touch below with a comment but also like our page on Facebook (Distinct Chatter) or follow us on Twitter – @distinctchat