In “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” first-time actress Sidney Flanigan plays Autumn, a 17 year old in a hollowed-out Pennsylvania town. Autumn’s hardly an extrovert, but she is blessed with a steadfast friend in her cousin Skylar, played by Talia Ryder. The two work as cashiers at the local grocery store.
Autumn is pregnant, with no desire or capacity to become a mother. She first seeks help at a local clinic, where she gets very bad advice. And in Pennsylvania, a minor can’t get an abortion without parental consent — a non-starter in Autumn’s case.
Determined to help her cousin, Skylar lifts some cash from the grocery store and the two set off on for New York City, where abortion is an option. Manhattan is alien territory for the two penniless teenagers. “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” follows their journey with understatement and restraint.
Filmmaker Eliza Hittman has worked with non-actors in her previous two intimate art house films, “It Felt Like Love” and “Beach Rats,” and she did it again here with Flanigan.
When we spoke to Hittman from New York in March, she knew “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” might not open in theaters, as she had hoped. She tells us about having to be flexible with release plans because of coronavirus, casting Flanigan after meeting her at a party years earlier, and making a last-minute trip back to the Berlin Film Festival where her movie won the Silver Bear.