Never Really Sometimes Always(2021/ Drama/ Netflix)
A story based around two American teenage girls who travel to New York for an abortion.
Writer/ Director- Eliza Hittman
Cast- Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder
Autumn is a 17 yr old, lives in rural Pennsylvania, attends school, works part time, has a cold and distant relationship with her family and lives a seemingly lonely life. She is quiet, brave, spunky.
When she realises she is pregnant and she doesn’t want to continue with it , it is not going to be an easy journey for her. She has Skylar, her cousin ,who holds her hand through out. Their relationship, inexplicable in words, pulls at your heartstrings.
Even though you are aware of the sensitive premise and the praises around the film , nothing prepares you for the searing intensity with which it effects you and what enables it, is the narrative style and the way Eliza Hittman presents her story.
The film swept accolades in film festivals and Hittman won huge appreciation for her story telling which is an incredible balance between an almost docu style/ Neo realistic style and a story that seems like a character study. Yet, the way it moves you, is astounding.
Kudos to Hittman and I think it is only a woman who could have enabled us to see with such proximity, what a woman goes through with all her emotions and struggles, bearing brunt bravely, navigating around a world where she is denied control over her own body.
With minimal dialogues ,no melodrama and innumerable tacit moments, she quietly holds your hand and makes you live through the life of her protagonists .You see, feel and go through every emotion they go through .She does not bother to explain dynamics, relationships or the past. She chooses to not dwell upon what’s and why’s. She does not try to justify or explain.She doesn’t feel that her protagonists are answerable to you or to the world.
Yet they have to answer a lot, sometimes in a pattern pre set for them by others, having to select the options given to them ( as conveyed by the title).
Autumn doesn’t wallow in tears , she doesn’t seek your or anyone’s sympathy.There is a quiet determination about her. She is resilient and brave. She makes you want to give her a hug and say that everything will be alright. But she doesn’t seem to need it, mind you.,Or at least appearingly.
The two girls go quietly and determinedly on and about. Their quiet understanding, unspoken camaraderie, Autum’s brave front and grumpiness, Skylar’s adorable mix of maturity and chirpiness, their childishness, their friendship ,everything is immensely moving.Most of the times you are more fearful for them than they themselves are.
Sydney Flanigan and Talia Ryder blow you away with their natural and realistic performances.
It is ironic how , with such minimal portrayal of emotions by their respective characters, these two actors evoke such strong emotions in you.Kudos to the film’s writing and camerawork. It is superlative.
It is an incredible feat accomplished by Hittman to be able to convey so much in so little words. The way she humanises the story without saying much is profound. It is more often her camera that conveys to you, than the spoken words.She leaves a lot for you to absorb and infer.
She doesn’t try to make a statement, in words , that is. She doesn’t try to be vociferous or polemic. She just shows what the girls go through and leaves you with your barrage of strong thoughts and rumbling emotions.
This is the kind of film that stays with you for much longer than you would want it to be. Autumn and Skylar would stay with me for, I don’t know how long.