Director and scriptwriter Eliza Hittman is bringing her third feature film to the public with a unique and curious title: Never Rarely Sometimes Always . Hittman received positive responses for his two previous works, It Felt Like Love (2013) and Beach Rats (2017) , which have a similar cinematic theme to his current film.
In Never Rarely Sometimes Always , Hittman once again tries to explore relevant social issues through the personal story of a young girl. The 101-minute film has won awards at various film festivals, including Sundance and Berlin .
Featuring Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder as the two main characters, Never Rarely Sometimes Always also stars Théodore Pellerin, Ryan Eggold, and Sharon Van Etten . Although originally planned to be shown in theaters, this film was finally released as a video on demand on April 3.
As soon as the film opened, it became clear that Never Rarely Sometimes Always is the kind of film that requires a great emotional state while watching it. Many moments in this film are so emotional that sometimes it makes it difficult for me to digest.
While watching it, I unconsciously frowned several times. This happened every time I felt thrown in Autumn Callahan's body and seemed to be able to understand the confusion.
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Never Rarely Sometimes Always provides a realistic depiction of how the world can sometimes be very harsh on teenagers, especially for young women. Hittman says this is not in a dictating way, but in a narrative that feels so real.
In the prologue Never Rarely Sometimes Always , a teenage boy cries out against Autumn who is performing at their school's art show. Although disturbed by this incident, Autumn continued his appearance.
However, from the first second the camera focused on Autumn, we could feel something that distinguished him from other children. The expression on the girl's face was almost always sad, as if a great anxiety was haunting her mind.
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Autumn's anxiety was finally proven when she found out that she was carrying a ten-week fetus. The 17-year-old girl is trying to find the fastest solution that can save her from a bigger problem: abortion.
Autumn and her cousin Skylar then go on an unplanned trip across state borders to New York in search of a clinic that can help them. They were stranded in the metropolitan city with limited money and without knowing anyone there.
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We were taken to follow Autumn and Skylar while they were stranded on the subway train , restaurant, game center , bowling alley , bus terminal, bakery, sidewalk, to karaoke. Lost in the middle of New York City for several days, the two of them tried to stand up and believe that the hope they were looking for had not faded.
The change in story and time setting is shown through various shots that are visually aesthetically pleasing. There are also quite a number of close-up shots that allow us to closely observe the expressions and feelings of the characters.
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After this perilous journey, Autumn came to an end when he was again confronted by his greatest fear that had caused all the chaos. All of Autumn's suffering was summed up in a simple question from the clinic staff: "Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always?"
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The focus of Never Rarely Sometimes Always is on how women often occupy vulnerable positions in society. This message is reflected in the figure of Autumn's misogynistic father, Autumn's boss and Skylar who likes to kiss the two girls' hands without their will, to a perverted man who behaves rudely to Autumn and Skylar on the train.
There is also a teenager named Jasper (Théodore Pellerin) who never publicly harasses Autumn and Skylar in the story. However, it was as if her character was meant by Hittman to be a symbol of the two girls' helplessness.
Meanwhile, for most of the film, Autumn only says one or two words when interacting with other characters. Even his interactions with Skylar, the only person Autumn trusted other than his own mother, were rare.
However, Hittman seems to realize that it doesn't take many words to move the hearts of the audience. The emotional bond between Skylar and Autumn was depicted strongly through the gaze of the two of them towards each other.
The amount of Skylar's love and support for Autumn is one of the many things I admire about this film. At one point in the story, Skylar is forced to respond to physical contact from Jasper in order to get a return fare for herself and Autumn. From the other side of the pillar on which Skylar and Jasper stood, Autumn linked her finger with Skylar's.
Even though no words were spoken, their sincere affection for each other flowed through those little gestures. This moment of warmth shows the beauty that happens when women support and strengthen one another.
There are so many meanings contained in the film Never Rarely Sometimes Always . The impressive acting performances of its two main young stars, Flanigan and Ryder , allow the film to convey every message that it sinks into the hearts of the audience.
It is not difficult to understand why the judges at the Sundance Film Festival bestowed the “Neo-Realism” award on Never Rarely Sometimes Always . Autumn and Skylar are representations of women's resilience in dealing with misogynistic behavior to harassment and violence that often appears in their lives.
There are still many people who think that the current social environment has created security and equality for women. However, Never Rarely Sometimes Always proves that this view is far from reality. Not in a knowing and most correct way, this film actually tries to present reality as it is.
Autumn may be just a fictional character, but various pieces in his story are experiences that have never been voiced by many other women in this world.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always celebrates the power of women through a dark narrative that is different from most feminism-themed films. With realistic storytelling, this film reflects an important social issue that places women at the center of the story.
As the film's director and script writer, Eliza Hittman never tries to dictate to the audience about morality in the issues she raises. This film by Hittman inspires us to reflect on this issue for ourselves from the point of view of the main characters.
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