Eliza Hittman’s latest film is a road trip movie unlike most it never shies away from capturing the reality, rarely loses your attention, sometimes surprises you with unique moments of clarity and always carries its heart on its sleeve. Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a movie that rises above the entertainment value to reach a level of importance that requires your undivided attention.
The story revolves around a young teenage Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) who travels from rural Pennsylvania to the Big Apple to take care of her unintended pregnancy. Along this journey she asks her cousin Skyler (Talia Ryder) to venture with her along this drastic odyssey. Sidney and Talia deliver award worthy performances in this mostly dialogue free tale. The title NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS comes from the questionnaire that abortion clinic doctors ask prospective patients to evaluate the situation. The patient is asked a series of questions that can be answered as I have never, rarely, sometimes or always. The film allows the journey to take up a majority of our screen time before Autumn is given the questionnaire. The road tale revolves around a common theme of a small town youth struck with a massive life changing consequence. Her tone deaf step father, played by Ryan Eggold, is a nice composite of most aloof father figures who usually cause more damage than being helpful. Sharon Van Etten is the bogged down mother figure that is just trying to keep the household together. Sharon also is a tremendous singer and her song seventeen is a perfect companion to this film and honestly one of the best records from 2019!
Autumn and Skyler’s journey is lined with numerous obstacles including a lack of money, time and protection. That last element of protection is the really impactful part of Hittman’s film. Throughout the movie these two teenage girls are having to deal with the advances and sexualization that so many women must survive on a daily basis. We meet guys along the way that really highlight just how tough a world it can be for a growing young woman. Autumn’s baby daddy is a punk kid that rather impress his friends than give a damn about his “conquest”. We witness a pedophile figure at the Target Skyler and Autumn work. Then there is the sexual advances of their manager and later in the film a lone subway rider who exposes himself. Theodore Pellerin plays Jasper another male figure that appears kind but his attentions lead to a drastic sequence. Pellerin adds levity and yet is a perfect reinforcement of what Hittman is obviously trying to showcase.
Now back to that questionnaire sequence. Sidney Flanigan’s performance during this heartbreaking scene speaks volumes of the terrible reality she is living through. I recommend this film solely for this scene alone but hope you’ll fully embrace Hittman’s quiet poignant take on this subject matter. The girls don’t have to explain a single thing that happens you know what is going on and you are thus immersed into their outcome.
Easily one of the most important films of the year and something that should be shown to parents and kids everywhere.
The film now is available online via these outlets – Amazon, Apple, Comcast, DirecTV , Vudu, Google/YouTube, Charter, Verizon, Microsoft, Dish, Fandango, Sony, Cox, Altice, Vubiquity , AMC On Demand, Redbox.
Directed by Eliza Hittman
Written by Eliza Hittman
Selig Rating – A
Running Time 1hr 41min
Available Online Today on all platforms
Starring: Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Theodore Pellerin, Sharon Van Etten, and Ryan Eggold.
The Selig Rating Scale:
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn’t paid for it.
1. Sidney and Talia – Still from the film.
2. Talia Ryder, Sidney Flanigan, and Eliza Hittman Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images – © 2020 Getty Images.
3. Talia Ryder, Sharon Van Etten, Sidney Flanigan, and Ryan Eggold Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images – © 2020 Getty Images.