Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Never Rarely Sometimes Always ★★★★

"Never Rarely Sometimes Always" is simultaneously beautiful and difficult to watch.

The tender realism of the film's style - its natural pace, costuming & -dialogue - and the fact that we spend the entire run time with two teenaged girls, Skylar & Autumn, intensifies the experience into one that is almost unbearable at times: the questioning session, for example, or the night before the second day. These sequences are painful in part because the acting is phenomenal; the young actresses lose themselves in their parts, so we become immersed in their story.

Yet there is such melancholic beauty throughout: in the concern of Skylar, the courage of Autumn, and the kindness of the women at the two clinics. Thus, the harrowing scenario that is driving the narrative becomes the vehicle for their poignant humanity too.

Eliza Hittman's direction is brutal in its honesty and gentle in its attentive gaze. Our gaze, in turn, becomes one of empathy -- hopefully not never or rarely, but sometimes, or always, and in real life, too.

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