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Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Autumn (played by first-timer Sidney Flanigan) is a teenage girl who becomes pregnant. Abortions are not allowed in Pennsylvania without parent consent, so she and her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder, also a first-timer) make the trip to New York City for the procedure.  This is a very different kind of road trip that explores the nature of friendship of these two cousins and the incredible determination these two young women possess. The storytelling is slow and methodical, and through it, the director captures so many details that make every moment of Autumn’s journey completely believable. The film is about abortion, but it is not an “issue” film; we see what Autumn sees, feel what she feels as she finds herself in a huge city with few resources. Flanigan is in complete command of her role and communicates so much in her stillness and expressions. There is a scene when she is meeting with the social worker completing a form (hence the title of the film) that is riveting and devastating. Flanigan is a new actress, yet her understated performance is big and award-worthy. Ryder and Flanigan have great chemistry and come across convincingly as two girls who love each other and depend upon each other to get through the various twists and turns of their journey in a world in which they depend on men but don’t allow themselves to be controlled by them. Big thumbs up for a quiet yet powerful film that reminded me a lot of The Assistant, another film directed by a woman; both directors place their characters as the focal point of the film and force us to understand their experience through the main character’s eyes and through a young woman’s eyes. And, in spite of the enormous challenges these young women face, the director keeps a sense of hope throughout the film. (2020; 4.5 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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