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Film / Never Rarely Sometimes Always

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Her journey. Her choice.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a 2020 British-American drama film, written and directed by Eliza Hittman.

Seventeen-year-old Autumn Callahan (Sidney Flanigan) suspects she is pregnant. After an unsuccessful visit to a crisis pregnancy center, where she is given deliberately misleading information about her pregnancy, Autumn learns that she is unable to get an abortion in Pennsylvania without parental consent. She subsequently attempts and fails to induce a miscarriage herself, and enlists her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder) to accompany her on a bus ride to New York City to visit Planned Parenthood and obtain a legal abortion.

The film was produced by BBC Films, and distributed by Focus Features. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2020, and was later released in the US on March 13, 2020.

Tropes in this film include:

  • Ambiguous Situation: We never find out if Autumn and Skylar get caught for stealing the money from their jobs at the supermarket, which they needed to to get to New York and Autumn's abortion.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Autumn is back at home from the crisis pregnancy center after learning of her pregnancy. She takes a safety pin and sterilizes it, and for a minute one can feel apprehension about what she might possibly do next, but it turns out she just uses the pin to pierce her nose.
  • Best Friend: Skylar appears to be Autumn’s only friend and emotional support. She steals the money needed for their journey to New York and feigns interest in a boy she doesn’t like in order to secure bus tickets back home.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: New York isn't portrayed very magically here. It's alien and scary, and neither Skylar or Autumn have anywhere to stay, forcing them to remain awake for two days straight to maintain a modicum of safety.
  • Dirty Old Man: While ringing up items at her grocery store job, Skylar makes small talk with an older customer. The small talk veers into the guy trying to make a move on her. Skylar has to say she is taken for the guy to get the hint.
  • The manager the girls pass their cash bags into at work takes the opportunity to kiss them on the hands every time.
  • Extremely Short Time Span: The bulk of the film takes place during a 48-hour period as Autumn and Skylar travel from their small Pennsylvania town to a Planned Parenthood clinic in New York City.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Very much averted. The film is all about Autumn's journey to receive a safe and legal termination, and the film passes no judgment on her for this.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Though the film is about abortion and the right to choose, it remains surprisingly objective. Although the film's sympathies clearly lie with the protagonist as she encounters the difficulties of obtaining a safe, legal abortion, it does not demonize those who seek to dissuade Autumn, either.
  • Jerkass: The nameless boy who jeers and slut-shames Autumn during her performance at a school concert and later makes lewd gestures at her. Autumn’s stepfather Ted. Jasper, to a degree, as he persistently pursues Skylar even though she is not interested.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Autumn throws a cup of water in the face of a boy who was heckling her.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Who was the father of Autumn's baby?
  • Show, Don't Tell: The film utilizes a cinéma vérité approach, featuring minimal dialogue. One crucial scene illustrates the bond between Autumn and Skylar wordlessly—Autumn, seeing Skylar and Jasper kissing, understands Skylar is only going along with the kiss so Jasper will lend them money for bus tickets home. As Skylar endures the kiss, Autumn reaches around and discreetly grabs Skylar's hand to comfort her.
  • Thicker Than Water: After a quarrel on their trip, Skylar goes to sit far away from Autumn. Their dust-up is forgotten about though as the next scene of them together shows Skylar silently fixing Autumn's makeup, showing their familial bond as cousins.
  • Title Drop: The title phrase comes from the sexual-history questionnaire Autumn is walked through by her doctor at Planned Parenthood, with each of the named options being a possible answer for each question.
  • The Unreveal: It's never revealed why or how Autumn became pregnant. A throwaway scene in the first act implies a case of Parental Incest, but it’s never made explicit and is left open to interpretation.