Film FestivalsMovie ReviewsSundance 2020: Never Rarely Sometimes Always Review

Keith NoakesJanuary 27, 202094/100
Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin
Eliza Hittman
Eliza Hittman
Running Time
101 minutes
Release Date
March 13th, 2020
Overall Score
Rating Summary
Never Rarely Somtimes Always is an unrelenting, and emotionally resonating story of internal conflict, featuring a memorable performance from Sidney Flanigan.

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, to keep up with our latest coverage, click here.

Stories like those told in Never Rarely Sometimes Always aren’t the easiest to watch but they should still be told. Teen stories aren’t always glamorous and maybe it takes an indie film to tackle tougher subjects. Abortion is a tough subject for anyone to deal with but this film tackles it with empathy and respect, hitting audiences right in the feels. While it’s subtle, more show than tell, style won’t necessarily be for everyone, it allows us to connect with the story on a deeper level. Meanwhile, times have certainly changed as it’s not easy to be a teen girl and it is even less easy to find access to abortion services. However tough it may be, the film reminds us that we are not alone.

The title, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, refers to a test that a 17-year-old Pennsylvania girl named Autumn (Flanigan) had to take about her sexual history. The beginning of the film saw her pregnant and feeling alone (while not ready to be a mother). Autumn tried to shoulder this responsibility herself but would only be met with confusing hurdles and roadblocks, desperately going to some truly heartbreaking lengths in the process. Confiding in her cousin Skylar (Ryder), the two would embark on a trip to New York City so Autumn could get the help she needs.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always may not use a lot of exposition but it definitely could still get its point across, still conveying considerable emotion within the smallest of moments through its use of score, camerawork, and most importantly through its performances. Flanigan’s career-making performance as Autumn will be one that will be talked about all year. Through the slighest of facial expressions, we can feel her fear and relate to her desperation. Flanigan’s superb chemistry with Ryder, who was superb in her own right, sold their bond which only added to the emotion.

In the end, Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a powerful drama that shouldn’t be missed.

*still courtesy of Focus Features*

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