Never Rarely Sometimes Always

People always seem to be walking on eggshells whenever the topic of abortion comes up as if it’s this ominous and taboo monster that is lurking in the shadows, when in truth it’s a sometimes needed and necessary medical procedure available to women. Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a powerful drama that doesn’t bombard you with some message about abortion. Instead it follows two cousins as they navigate the struggles of getting an abortion and deal with the people, both good but mostly bad, along the way.


17-year-old Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) finds out that she is is pregnant after feeling ill for the past couple of days and decides that an abortion is what’s best for her as she just isn’t ready to be a mother. Unable to get an abortion in Pennsylvania with her parents’ concent, she travels to New York with her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder) to have the procedure done. Even then it’s not that simple as Autumn must jump through all kinds of obstacles in her way, both related and unrelated to the abortion.


What’s interesting about Never Rarely Sometimes Always is that the abortion itself isn’t the the primary focus of the film. Sure it’s the destination, but it’s Autumn’s journey that proves to be the most noteworthy. Hittman does a fantastic job at showing Autumn’s thought process throughout the film. You can see her brain work and struggle through every decision she makes, and even some of the ones she doesn’t. Sidney Flanigan is wonderful in the role as she is able to convey the necessary emotions with a fiery intensity that connects on a deeper level. I felt for her when she goes to Google about her options, inevitably trying out a few “at-home” options out of fear before deciding on going to the doctor. She’s a scared teenager who has no one to talk to.


That’s because with the exception of Skylar and a counselor at the abortion facility, most of the people she interacts with are absolutely deplorable, from her creepy boss at the supermarket who has to kiss her hand before she can sign out of her shift to the seemlying nice lady at the clinic who lied about how far along she was because of her pro-life stance. Society seems to throw up one obstacle after another in front of Autumn, but she’s determined to see this through until the very end.


It all makes for an extremely intense and mentally draining film to watch. Still, it’s a film that excels from its fantastic performances and compelling story. The title itself refers to a moment in the film when Autumn’s counselor asks her a series of questions in regards to her relationships to get a better understanding of her mental state, with the responses to choose from being never, rarely, sometimes, or always. It’s a pivotal scene that is brilliantly shot and acted, and will leave you absolutely speechless and on the verge of tears, if not already crying. It’s just one of many that stands out.


Never Rarely Sometimes Always tells an emotionally gripping story that has you locked in from the opening scene where every moment lands with an impactful punch to the gut. It may be a difficult watch for many, but one that’s well worth it in the end.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
Follow him @ Twitter
Friend him @ Facebook