Never Rarely Sometimes Always review – a film that leaves an indelible mark of the moment

4.5

Summary

Never has a subject been captured with such empathy and rarely has a single scene been so moving. Hittman proves that her film is sometimes capable of reaching an extraordinary level of authenticity and the medium can always be considered a source of great art.

Director Eliza Hittman’s latest film Never Rarely Sometimes Always is pure independent cinema. Many watched her film when quarantined with nowhere to go for the last couple of months and were exposed to a no-frills approach that may offend mainstream movie fans’ sensibilities. If you give yourself over to it, you’ll find a subject matter that has never been captured with such empathy and rarely has a single scene been so moving as to brand an indelible mark.

The film focuses on Autumn (newcomer and singer Sidney Flanigan) who finds early on she has an unplanned pregnancy and is still in high school. She also works part-time after school at a local grocery store with her cousin, Skylar (Talia Ryder of the upcoming West-Side Story), who is constantly and creepily hit on by men of any age. When Autumn finds out about Autumn’s dilemma, she steals some quick cash to travel from their small, pro-life, Pennsylvania town to New York City, so they can find an establishment to get an abortion without their families knowing.

This is Hittman’s first film since her well-received Beach Rats and like that script, some will point to her script’s almost aimless existence in her character’s story arcs, but then you would miss the point entirely. Never Rarely Sometimes Always is anything but of the moment, a time capsule that is a reflection of a current national mood, and has a pulse of today’s youth because some atrocities are universal that span across multiple generations. You’ll learn what you need to about her own personal, home, and school life by paying close attention to keywords, phrases, and body language.

The film ultimately hits its climax by the end of its second act and is the equivalent of a release of a deep breath. Without giving too much away, Autumn meets with a character simply named Social Worker #2 (Kathy Chapman). Flanigan listens to Chapman’s delivery that is rhythmic, calm, steady, and therapeutic while proving that acting is listening. What comes next is a scene of delicate therapy and beautifully done with an almost simple, yet intricate detail. The scene is authentic when it comes to the toll and strain when a young woman’s mental health is abused and brings to mind the famous words of Aaron Sorkin, “the things we do to women.” It made my jaw drop, my heart sink, and my throat close up because of that near-perfect cinematic moment.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a product of its time and exposes men to a world where if you don’t have the necessary equipment, young women are treated as sport and are consistently targeted as potential victims. Hittman proves that her film is sometimes capable of reaching an extraordinary level of authenticity and the medium can always be considered a source of great art.


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M.N. Miller

M.N. Miller has been a film and television writer for Ready Steady Cut since August of 2018 and is patiently waiting for the next Pearl Jam album to come out.

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