Film Review: “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” (2020) ★★★★

In most cases, teenagers do not know how to handle an early and unplanned pregnancy. Whether it is because of their financial situation, family matter, or just personal choice. Rarely does it happen that they find some family support, but how about the others who don’t? Does it ever happen? Never? Rarely? Sometimes? Always? The aforementioned questions are the ones that normally shed light on why teens do what they have to in the first place.

Written and directed by Eliza Hitman, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” follows two teenagers, Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) and Skylar (Talia Ryder), as they embark on an emotional journey from rural Pennsylvania to New York to get medical attention for an unintended pregnancy. As the two leave behind one mile after another, it seems nothing can stop them from achieving their goal. However, as they get closer to their final destination, Autumn, in this case, must come to an agreement with herself, her fears, and expectations before she lets the doctor have a final say.

We do not know who the father of Autumn’s child is nor his age and preferences. But what we learn at some point is that he is not someone whom Autumn could trust her child with. In fact, she does not see herself as a suitable candidate to become a parent. Also, her old-fashioned parents can’t help her either. Of course, there was never a question in Autumn’s mind to keep such an important information secret from her parents. However, there is one person only whom she could trust and that is Skylar, who is supportive of Autumn all the way.

As the story unfolds, we grow sympathy towards Autumn even though the decision she is about to take is heart-wrenching. But as we get to know her or her reasons through the questionnaires of an Ultrasound Tech (Amy Tribbey), it kind of provides a thorough explanation as to why we never have to miss the absence of the man who impregnated her. But when she was asked about her relationship with him, the seventeen-year-old Autumn becomes emotional and so do we. What she had to tell may not be eye-opening but revealing for sure to those who still remain in the dark of the reality of the sexual life of teens and what happens when a bad decision is made.

Eliza Hitman’s film never misses its point and rarely misleads the audience. Sometimes it feels like a slow-burning drama that we know how it’ll end but always remains engaging and articulate when it comes to delivering its message. As for the film itself, it is what we need to see to understand the younger generation better. And that’s not because we don’t but this film surely helps the audience to be less judgmental, more compassionate and understanding towards the youth who are in need of our advice and support more than criticism. No one is secure from making mistakes nor Autumn was. It is just that each and every one of us has our own way of handling it and Autumn aims in a different direction in a country where most won’t be pleased with it at all.

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