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Film review: Never Rarely Sometimes Always

REVIEW

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Available to stream/download now (15) ★★★★☆

COULD there be Oscars? Or at least nominations? That’s the buzz surrounding Eliza Hittman’s acclaimed Sundance Festival smash.

A raw, neo-realist gem, it’s the kind of micro-budget little indie that wouldn’t normally get a look-in during Oscars season. Yet it just might stand a chance this time round thanks to Covid-19 grinding movie-making to a halt and studios keeping their big hopefuls back until cinemas reopen at full box office capacity.

When small-town 17-year-old Autumn (newcomer Sidney Flanigan) suspects she’s pregnant, she goes for a test. It’s positive. ‘Could it still be a negative?’ she pleads with the supremely unhelpful clinician. ‘A positive is always a positive,’ she’s firmly told. But that’s not how Autumn feels.

Helped by her cousin (Talia Ryder), she flees to New York, where a minor can get an abortion without parental consent. Here the two girls find themselves vulnerable, homeless and nearly penniless in Manhattan as Autumn is forced to wait for a procedure over three days. Like the grim flip-side of Juno, it can be a bleak watch, with no-one cracking a smile for a good 45 minutes, but it’s a slowly rewarding one.

Director Eliza Hittman’s sensitivity is remarkable, picking out visual details with wordless, penetrating subtlety, whilst 21-year-old first-time actor Sidney Flanigan, frequently caught in close-up, is almost impossibly natural. Academy Awards hype aside, both women are glittering talents to watch.