Following an unplanned pregnancy and the lack of support from her community, a young adult and her cousin travel from their home state of Pennsylvania to New York City, as it is the closest place she can get an abortion without her parents consent.
Let’s face it: life has been tough for women in modern society today. From being constantly objectified by their male colleagues to overcoming the current gender wage gap, they have not always had the chance to succeed. Sure, some progress has been made in recent years, but there is still a lot more that needs to be done. Especially for access to abortion, as not every women who needs one can, a topic that has been widely discussed in most regions today, namely the United States. And after seeing writer and director Eliza Hittman’s stirring drama on this subject matter, it is clear that younger victims need the help the most.
The most relatable thing about this story is not only how our two main characters Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) and Skylar (Talia Ryder) come from a smaller community that is hardly ever noticed, but how they deal with their problems, made more challenging as they do not feel comfortable asking anyone for help. It may seem like their town understands her plight, but no one ever takes the time to talk with her and see the issue from her perspective. That is until she tells her cousin Skylar about the news, to which she immediately responds by asking her how she can help and what needs to be done. When one analyzes its themes on women’s health and companionship, it is pretty clear that the only people who will understand their situation is women themselves, mainly those who they have the closest relationships with.
In an early scene, Autumn goes in for a check up to her doctor (a female), but instead of asking her how she is thinking or trying to answer any of the questions she might have, the doctor is mainly focused on steering her away from an abortion. Not knowing what else to do, Autumn pushes it to the back of her mind, hoping that her pain will work itself out. When Skylar finds out however, she does pretty much anything she can to help her out, such as stealing funds from her job to pay for Autumn’s abortion to staying by her side throughout the entire trip, a commentary on the power that friendship and loyalty have, for those that need it the most.
Unfortunately, traits like these ones must be mutual between people for them to have any effect. Individual members can often be taken advantage of, when the responsibility of others triumphs their own dignity, but the film explores the other side of relationships, showing the dangers of being entitled and how that can hurt those we care about the most. But the biggest positive here is the female perspective of the story. The legality of abortion is already stressful for so many women, as most males and religious groups constantly try to insert their own beliefs and political views into their situations.
On top of that, the procedures are general expensive, especially for the women who are having it, as it relieves themselves of the financial stress that having a child can cause. Even more so, teen pregnancies are a bigger issue in this area, as most young adults are not even finished with school yet, let alone having dependable jobs and father figures for their own children. Unlike most films about teen pregnancy that show the issue from both sides, the film wisely shows the plight of women instead, the ones who struggle with having and raising kids the most, made even more difficult as most fathers in this situation do not bother to stick out and help out. The visuals and score are strikingly beautiful, but the technical standout is the realistic performances from Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder who’s chemistry carry this entire movie from start to finish.
Nothing they say or do feels out of place, and gives the film a more grounded sense to it, resulting in some of the best acting of the year so far. The story is a little slow, however, and though it may bother some viewers, it takes its time to go over every issue, and not rush through them, which could led to a weaker narrative overall. The emotion is not as strong though, but the story and actresses are powerful enough to show audiences the problems they are facing, allowing the film to be more relatable in the end. Other than that, this is a near perfect commentary on abortion, that will remembered for how it choose to highlight the perspectives of it’s victims rather than their families who rarely understand the physical and mental toll having the procedure takes on them.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a near perfect film that wisely highlights the issues of teen pregnancy and abortion, while also being a heartfelt story on the power of friendship and loyalty. Even though its narrative is slowly paced, it gives audiences more time to understand the issues present, but from the perspective of those who are the most at risk in the situation. It is less focused on opposing parties like families, as they may not always be there for them in the long run. The chemistry between Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder carry this film from start to finish, as they are realistic and empower its strong themes, even in the smallest of ways. While other lighthearted films with the same subject matter may be more entertaining for audiences, its mature tone, commentary and striking technical work allow it be more impactful and realistic for demographics of any age.
Have you seen Never Rarely Sometimes Always yet? If so, what are your thoughts on the movie? Let us know in the comments section of our website or on our Twitter and Instagram accounts, and stay tuned to Kernel for all the latest movie and tv updates and reviews.