Autumn (Sydney Flanigan) leaves her small town to go get an abortion in New York.
April 3, 2020-3: 00 am
Never Rarely Sometimes Always: a Search for abortion desperately ****
CRITICAL / media we learned this week that american States sought to take advantage of the pandemic of the COVID-19 to suspend the right of women to abortion. Never Rarely Sometimes Always, drama deeply moving and brilliantly done, which becomes even more burning news. Unfortunately private to a theatrical release, the award-winning film in Berlin arrives on video on demand.
The feature film Eliza Hittman brings to the stage Autumn (Sydney Flanigan), a teenager of 17 who lives in a small town in Pennsylvania in a family of modest means, with a father’s scorn and a loving mother, but occupied by his two younger daughters.
Pregnant, Autumn seeks help from a family planning clinic clearly pro-life.
For Autumn, it is the cross and the banner, a real course of fighting begins. Because in his State, parental consent is to be imposed for a minor who wants an abortion. She resolves to take the bus to New York in the company of his cousin Skylark (Talia Ryder).
Forced to continue their stay more than a day, the pair roams by night from the bus station to the metro stations, which illustrates how the two cousins feel helpless, and exceeded, despite the maturity of Autumn. All the weight of the approach rests on their shoulders…
The most surprising, in the circumstances, is the restraint and nuance displayed by Eliza Hittman. Never Rarely Sometimes Always avoids the trap of activism as much as that of the pathos and the drama.
No need. The scene is the most powerful, which gives its title to the feature film, occurs when a nurse asked Autumn about his sexual life and his spouse. In a long sequence-shot fixed, it must meet on the abuse that she allegedly suffered, according to a scale ranging from “never” to “always”. His tortured face, where one reads his discomfort, a form of shame and fear, said all of the physical, psychological and sexual experience, again and again, a majority of women.
The men did not have the beautiful role in this drama. Even the student played by the Quebec Theodore Pellerin (a brief appearance) shows little empathy and seeks to seduce Skylar. This is certainly justified in the context, but it lacks a bit of nuances. Another irritant : more than 48 hours after their departure, secretly, the parents don’t seem to be worried at their disappearance.
Skylar (Talia Ryder) meets Jasper (Theodore Pellerin) as she accompanies her cousin Autumn in New York.
Small clashes in this embodiment superbly controlled. As in The bums of beach (2017), Eliza Hittman adopts a style that is intimate, the minimal dialogue and an approach to documentary which reinforce the veracity of the film. Some of the scenes are harsh and charged with emotion.
Sidney Flanigan, and Talia Ryder, two debutantes, prove to be perfectly believable in the skin of the cousins left to themselves at a time when reassurance and compassion would be set.
For those who think that we are immune from such a fate, we must remember that Andrew Scheer, the chief who had resigned from the conservative Party of Canada, has floated the possibility of restricting the right to abortion during the campaign in 2019, before turning back…
More reason to see Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Grand prize of the jury at the Berlinale 2020.