Never Rarely Sometimes Always Movie Review
Sidney Flanigan makes an impressive acting debut in Never Rarely Sometimes Always, a drama about one teenage girl’s effort to get an out-of-state abortion. An emotional journey buried in a not-quite-emotional film, Flanigan’s performance is by no means wasted, but the movie never quite elevates beyond what it appears to be on the surface: a downtrodden, muted experience.
Written and directed by Eliza Hittman, Never Rarely comes close to being really good—it’s just hard to picture anyone remembering this film a year from now. Hittman has assembled a fine little film that simply doesn’t escape its low-stake trappings; as important as the abortion is to her main protagonist, it’s hard to emotionally connect with what she is going through.
You watch, but you don’t feel.
It’s a shame, because Flanigan carries the film from start to end. She carries the perfect and perhaps paradoxical blend of confusion, shock, hopelessness, and determination you’d expect from a girl in her position—someone who became sexually active at an early age but who lives in a rural part of the country where support for abortion is limited if not nonexistent. The emotional strain of the experience becomes ever clearer in her worn face as the film progresses; she immerses herself in the role like a seasoned pro.
Talia Ryder is really good in a supporting role.
Never Rarely has its strong moments—a scene where the girls encounter a young man willing to “help” is disconcerting—and overall its storytelling approach is absorbing enough. But again, as hard as Hittman tries, the film never lets you in at an emotional level. The aesthetics, bathed in grays and browns, make it even harder for you to fully engage with what’s happening.
Good but hardly remarkable, Never Rarely Sometimes Always has a lot going for it and would make for a decent watch—but only if the subject matter really calls out to you.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.