At a Loss for Words
I can’t imagine why anybody would want to see Never Rarely Sometimes Always. Unless, of course, you are a teenage girl just becoming aware of sexuality and the consequences that sex can thrust upon your body. This is what confronts Autumn, a quiet girl from rural Pennsylvania.
When Autumn finds herself pregnant at age 17 from a casual fling with a fellow student, she decides she will get an abortion. Hold on a minute! Her state of Pennsylvania requires the permission and signatures of parents for any young girl in that predicament. This is not an option for her. She treasures her privacy and does not want to involve her parents. Her dad (Ryan Eggold) is almost a sexual predator himself because of his actions and verbal spewing. Her mom (Sharon Van Etten) may be a little more sensitive, but Autumn doesn’t want to confide in her, either.
Autumn does the next best thing and enlists her best friend and cousin Skylar (newcomer Talia Ryder) to accompany her on a bus to New York City to go to an abortion clinic. (This is Ryder’s first film, but she has already been cast in Stephen Spielberg’s remake of the classic musical West Side Story.) It’s a desperate journey as the girls have no money, know nobody in the Big Apple, and have nowhere to stay. Along the way they meet handsome youngster (Theodore Pellerin) who offers to help them navigate the city. Pellerin’s character is wiser and a bit more sophisticated than the girls, and this propels him to make a big pass and lunge at pretty Skylar. However, he does show some compassion and offers to help them out.
The scenes at the abortion clinic are compelling and serve to provide the title of the film. In answering questions while filling out forms, Autumn gives the lady in charge one-word answers, thus providing the title. Skylar and Autumn are close and project a wordless bonding that girls can have. Their scenes together are marvelous, but it is almost as though we are watching a silent film.
Autumn emerges as a strong but tragic figure. Many scenes with her are heartbreaking. Still, she ultimately is a young woman who makes her own decisions. This film may not be for everyone, but every young girl should see it.
(Released by Focus Features and rated “PG-13” for disturbing and mature thematic content, language, some sexual references and teen drinking.)