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MOVIES: Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Berlinale 2020) - Review: "A Tough Teenage Journey"


Never Rarely Sometimes Always continues to impress the audience and critics at film festivals. The story is centered on a seventeen years old girl, Autumn, who is bullied in school and has to face a really complicated situation: an unwanted, and clearly, unexpected pregnancy.

To deal with this situation, Autumn and her cousin Skylar start a journey to New York, that gets more complicated and exhausting than they would have expected. The movie is directed by It Felt Like Love’s Eliza Hittman, and the cast includes Ryan Eggold, Sharon Van Etten, Sidney Flanigan, and Talia Ryder.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always is not an easy movie to watch, and it shouldn’t be. The power of this narrative lies in its capability of pushing its message straightforwardly to the viewer. The complexity and the consequences of such a complicated choice, as the one which Autumn is facing, is presented in a consistent way, and in a delicate manner. The audience can empathize with the protagonist, even if she doesn’t have inspiring dialogues or gripping confrontations. Hittman is focused more on the body language, on the sad looks, on the unsaid.

Discussing the movie during the Berlinale Press Conference, the director stated that Never Rarely Sometimes Always is all about what women experience in their daily lives, especially how they are often confronted with some form of harassment, which is part of our patriarchal society. 

The most effective and powerful scene is connected with the title Never Rarely Sometimes Always, and a real-life counselor, who the director met during her research process, before starting shooting. It’s a scene that is structured and created to be the story's climax and spoke to me personally. Autumn is forced to open up and reveal her grief, her suffering. She is forced to confront her emotions. All the obstacles, problems, and traumas transformed Autumn in a tough and silent character, who is sharing more with what she can not express, than the other way around.  

I would point out that this is what the movie is aiming for: an emotional connection with an apparently restrained character. Probably in search of an essential sense of authenticity, in its depiction of women's struggle when they need to defend their right to have or not have a baby, Never Rarely Sometimes Always also wants you to feel what the main character is feeling, and it marvelous does that.

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