Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020)
★★★ / ★★★★
Writer-director Eliza Hittman takes us on another painfully realistic journey—this time alongside a seventeen-year-old named Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) who seeks to have an abortion. The story and subject are dealt without comedy or melodrama; like life, it just is. An argument can be made the work is simply meant to document. We take note of Autumn’s strained home life, how she is treated in school by her peers, how unhappy and angry she is, her complex relationship with her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder) who supports her decision to abort the fetus, and who the father might be. Most powerful are Autumn’s visits to two clinics: one in her hometown of rural Pennsylvania and the other in New York City. I admired that it shows stark differences between a clinic with intent to protect the fetus first and foremost and a clinic with a mission to respect what a woman chooses to do with her body. But that’s not all. We follow Autumn from the moment she enters the door, how she is greeted by the receptionist, while she waits in the waiting room, and the specific questions she is asked—or not asked—by a medical professional. From this angle, the differences between the clinics are more nuanced, thus requiring more attention (example: the former clinic often uses the word “baby” while the latter abstains). “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is a terrific film because it underscores with utmost clarity what one can expect should a woman chooses to get an abortion. Although it is short in matching the best documentaries that deal with the same topic because it does not show the various instruments used during the procedure, it remains to be highly informative and riveting.