A healthy coming-of-age drama with some fresh new talents.
I was supposed to be reviewing “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” last March, but because of this Corona nightmare, I had to wait either until the movie theaters reopen or until it gets released online. Now, Focus Features has found a way to put “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” on various streaming platforms like VOD, Amazon Prime, and AppleTV.
After praising the new faces of writer/actress Kelly O’Sullivan and director Alex Thompson in “Saint Frances,” here is another artisan to introduce me to such fresh new talents as actresses Sidney Flaniagn and Talia Ryder and writer/director Eliza Hittman. These women have delivered a masterpiece that’s more reserved than outspoken in its attempt to introduce us to a teenager with a familiar problem.
We meet Autumn (Flanigan), a reserved 17-year-old Pennsylvania girl, who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. She refuses to tell her parents (Ryan Eggold and Sharon Van Etten), and since there are laws in her state about her getting an abortion under the age of 18, she and her cousin Skylar (Ryder) must travel to New York to get one.
The movie doesn’t stop there, because when they make it to the abortion clinic, Autumn has to wait until the next day to go to another specialist, and because this was an 18 week pregnancy (which she thought was 10), the procedure has to be a 2-day period.
And the reason for the film’s title, is because her medical counselor must ask her questions about her relationships in the past with answers like “Never,” “Rarely,” “Sometimes,” and Always.” I’m sure women have been asked these kind of questions before, but I’m a man, so I wouldn’t know. But what I do know is that this scene ignites the film’s powerful and emotional punch that leaves you in tears.
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” doesn’t use much dialogue, and that’s okay, because it seems to show some respect to teenagers who aren’t ready to be parents. It’s also never hostile, because usually in movies, we see people protesting outside of abortion clinics (like in “Grandma” or “Waves”), and in this film, we don’t see any. I’m not supportive of abortions, but we don’t really need any more negativity, given our Corona nightmare. In fact, it shows us a relaxing and reserved manner.
The performances from Flanigan and Ryder are passionate and radiant in their own respective ways of keeping their tones on a low-key scale and for using their words for when it really matters. There’s no tension between them; in fact, the cousin is supportive of the main heroine. And there’s also a sweet side when they come across a nice young man they meet on the bus (Theodore Pellerin). He makes out with Skylar, but it never takes a formulaic turn. And just every doctor scene is kind to Autumn, and we need kindness right now.
It doesn’t care about the girl’s parents, but that’s not what the movie is about. “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is about choices, moods, and sentimental values-all the qualities to make it one of the best coming-of-age stories of the century.
Now Available for Streaming on VOD, AppleTV, Xfinity, Vudu, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, and Fandango Now