‘NEVER Rarely Sometimes Always’ is an indie film in America that got acclaimed in some film festivals, even winning the Silver Bear Prize at the Berlin Filmfest. It is about abortion and American critics just loved it as the treatment is very different from the usual commercial films Hollywood churns out.
This one has a very slow pace, no frills, indie approach. The central character is Autumn (Sidney Flanigan), a 17-year-old high school student in Pennsylvania who we first see singing and accompanying herself on the guitar in a school presentation. While she’s performing, someone shouts “slut” and it kind of unnerves her, but she goes on and finishes her song. She and her family then go to a diner after the show and it’s obvious she has no close relationship with her folks.
The next morning, she goes to a health center and after a pregnancy test, she’s told she’s 10 weeks pregnant. It turns out she cannot get an abortion in their state without parental consent since she’s still a minor. And since she doesn’t want her parents to know about her condition, she has to go to New York to get one.
Her very supportive cousin, Skylar (Talia Ryder), with whom she works as a cashier in a supermarket, accompanies her. The rest of the film is about their trip to New York. They thought the procedure to get rid of her baby will take just one day.
But at the abortion clinic, Autumn finds out that she’s actually 18 weeks pregnant and not just 10. Since she’s now on the second trimester of pregnancy, her procedure will take two days and it will cost so much that the money she brought with her would not be enough.
Before the procedure started, a nurse asks her a detailed series of questions about her sexual history and her answer would be either “never rarely sometimes always”, hence the film’s title. It’s revealed that she started having sex when she was only 14 years old, she has since a total of 6 sexual partners and she has allowed them to penetrate her even anally.
Some of the questions, she’s not able to answer and she just cries, but it’s revealed that some of her partners were abusive to her and even beat her up. She then undergoes the procedure and the ending shows her and her cousin getting on a bus going back to Pennsylvania. She is seen falling asleep during the trip. Blackout. The end.
Honestly, we didn’t have any sympathy for this immoral, promiscuous girl. But U.S. critics love the film very much, calling it devastatingly profound. They pitied girls like Autumn and the tone of the reviews actually suggests that they advocate that abortion should be made more easily available for girls like Sidney.
They say pregnant moms need not have any difficulty at all or suffer from indignities in getting such a procedure as its part of their legal health care!!!! This is where their culture and values differ greatly from ours.
Most of our viewers won’t empathize at all with the girl and even tell her: “Malandi ka, magdusa ka!” But with them, premarital sex is now a matter of course. Imagine, Sidney started having sex at 14 and has had sex with 6 different guys by the time she’s 17. If she were our daughter, we would be so horrified!
Some folks in their culture even laugh at teenagers who are still a virgin. So what do you expect to happen? And this girl won’t even confide to her parents. So, magdusa ka talaga! The film is praised for being authentic and true for portraying the unnecessary hardships adolescent females like Sidney go through.
But actually, the film shows that in the U.S., it’s actually fairly easy to get an abortion if you just have the funds and know where to obtain it, but definitely not in Pennsylvania where they have stricter rules for pregnant minors.