‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ | Sundance 2020 Review

Directed by Eliza Hitman, ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ is a raw and heartbreaking look at a young girl Autumn (played by Sidney Flanigan) living in a rural town who suddenly is dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. Due to lack of proper resources and even accurate medical information, Autumn and her cousin Skylar (played by Talia Ryder) have to travel to New York in order to get the care needed. In this slow-burn and often hard to watch drama, we get a look into what healthcare is like in the US for women and the hard truths about pregnancy and abortions.

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Saying it is a hard watch is an understatement, but you have to applaud the choice to pursue hard topics and director Eliza Hittman does a very good job of showing the reality of health care for Women, in a way that I truly believe had I NOT seen this, would not be able to comprehend the fraction of what we see in this movie. Abortion isn’t really a topic everyone is climbing over each other to tackle, and this country arguably is the most divided on this issue more than any other at the moment. What I’m trying to say is that you aren’t going to want to see this, you may have already made your mind up about the film before seeing it, but I BEG you to try to be open-minded about the intent of this film.

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This film is trying to lift the thin veil of what healthcare is like for women, truths about abortions, why women choose to carry to term or to abort, and just how truly difficult the process is even for a woman to know the accurate truth of what is in their body. Some of the things shown in ‘Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always shocked me, physically made me turn away, and sit in shock and anger of how much pressure and pain we put victims through.  The acting by Sidney Flanigan is fantastic and nuanced. A particular scene that stands out is when she is needing to go over a questionnaire with a New York planned parenthood doctor. It never cuts, and slowly pans in as the questions begin to tear her down. You see the pain and know the answers even when her character can’t answer them.

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I gotta be honest, I don’t know how to feel about some of the parts in this film. The characters are neither good nor bad, and they all in some way are taking advantage of one another to get what they need and that leads me to be unsure about how I feel in regards to the ending. The ambiguity is really fantastic for me and begs to be discussed after the film. I just hope with this movie people won’t just yell their political points back and forth and actually discuss the merits of the film.

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Overall, I would say this is a film worth seeing. Impactful performances and a tough topic yes, but with a raw and realistic portrayal of a fundamental flaw in the US healthcare system. Go in as open-minded as possible, and you may take away something you might not have thought about before.

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