Never Rarely Sometimes Always is the 66th movie in our weekly Geezer Cinema that we came up with when both of us were retired. Back then, the idea was to get us out of the house, but that doesn't happen anymore, so we watch at home (a couple of weeks ago, we saw our 65th, which meant we'd seen more at home than at the theaters).
I realized that over the last 66 weeks, I've shown a real taste for movies about young girls. Booksmart, Little Women, Emma!, Babyteeth, and now Never Rarely Sometimes Always, all about young girls, all chosen by me for Geezer Cinema. OK, I liked these kinds of movies long before we began Geezer Cinema, but it's fun to see how our selections differ from one another ... action pictures are more often chosen by my wife, movies about young girls more often chosen by me.
This is the third feature from Eliza Hittman, who also writes her films. She made the decision to cast Sidney Flanigan as Autumn, a 17-year-old in small-town Pennsylvania who gets pregnant and goes to New York City for an abortion. It's Flanigan's debut as an actor ... she was working as a janitor when filming began. Hittman saw something, and she sure was right ... Flanigan is excellent throughout the film. Also, Talia Ryder, who plays Autumn's cousin who accompanies her to New York, does not even have a Wikipedia page as of this writing. (She is also great.) The only name in the cast that I recognized was Sharon Van Etten, who plays Autumn's mom, and even there, I know her as a musician, not an actor.
Credit to the actors, and to Hittman, because she elicits such fine performances. It's not that Flanigan and Ryder ooze confidence ... that wouldn't fit their characters. But we never worry that the young actors are going to lose the thread.
Hittman's script, and the style she uses, avoids the kind of preaching you might expect from an "abortion movie". Never Rarely Sometimes Always is only peripherally about abortion. It's about the life of a 17-year-old girl in trouble. Hittman hints at possible traumas in Autumn's life, but that's all they are, hints. The trip to New York, and the procedure, is shitty ... the effect of the abortion is rough for Autumn, this is not a pretty movie. But something in Flanigan makes us believe she will survive. And her cousin will be there with her ... the relationship between the cousins is believable, you know Autumn's cousin has her back without asking. In fact, there isn't much dialogue at all between them. It's as if they are so close they barely need to talk.