‘Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always’ paints a tough, yet crucial picture

Sidney Flanigan stars as Autumn.
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There are some films out there that just don’t need a lot of “extra.”

While some flicks earn their stars with big bangs and over-the-top effects, in Eliza Hittman’s latest drama “Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always,” the relationship of the characters is what makes this thought-provoking story memorable.

The plot follows the journey of 17-year-old Autumn (Sidney Flanagan) who early on in the film finds out she’s pregnant and immediately begins researching her options. After telling her cousin, Skylar (Talia Ryder), both girls find a way to hop on a bus from their small hometown in rural Pennsylvania (rural with a capital R) to the bustle of New York City in hopes to get Autumn an abortion.

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After arriving in the Big Apple, what was hoped to be a quick procedure turns into a prolonged experience where both girls learn not just about the world around them, but truly about themselves.

“Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always” keeps audience members on this emotional journey every step of the way. From showing Autumn’s abruptly dysfunctional family-life, to her finding out about her pregnancy, to her trek to New York City with her cousin, to her experience from start to finish at the clinics. It might seem like some of these steps could have been skipped for plot purposes, but when put together, the film actually keeps you on the edge of your seat more than most—not in a hard-hitting way, but in an emotionally charged way.

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In some of the most heightened scenes (especially the one where the title of the film becomes apparently poignant), audience members are shoved right front and center to the plights of some of the hardships and realities of young girls’ lives. But still, the film doesn’t feel like a soap-opera drama. It feels more reality-based and simple in the fact that sometimes the most powerful stories are ones where you emerge from the ashes of a bad situation to find out what’s really meaningful—in this case a friendship, and one that is already so mature at such a young age.

Hittman’s film does, of course, focuses on issues in society as well, specifically on the structural effects of female exploitation and patriarchy, and it does so in a not-so-subtle yet all to0 familiar way. Whether that be from the manager at the supermarket where the girls work quite forcefully pursuing Skylar, or in the character of Jasper (Théodore Pellerin), a young and seemingly nice guy from the outside who even offers to help the girls pay for their stay in the city, but deep down is really just a boy looking to make out with the hot chick—either way the deed is done at showing some of the truths our current culture still experiences.

Eliza Hittman

The Indie film was at first set to be released on March 13 nationwide (which is typically not the case with lower-budget movies, an impressive feat for Hittman), but with current circumstances, plans changed. “Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always” available through Video on Demand now will offer viewers one thought-provoking ride of a viewing experience.

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