Autumn is seventeen and lives in a Pennsylvania town with her mother, her new partner and two little sisters. After school he works as a cashier in a supermarket, where with his cousin Skylar he endures the slimy attention of a superior. Autumn is a few weeks pregnant and not being able to count on the alleged father or the family, she decides to go to New York for an abortion. Accompanied by Skylar, she gets on a bus and reaches the metropolis. Here he will spend three days and two nights, talking with doctors and psychologists, walking around the streets and arcades with his cousin and a boy known in the meantime. After the operation, Autumn and Skylar will return home, ready to start their usual life again.
In the third feature film, the American Eliza Hitman perfects her gaze on adolescence and on the woman’s body with the delicate portrait of a single girl determined to freely manage her life.
What makes Never Rarely Sometimes Always a beautiful film is the extreme precision of the director’s gaze on its two protagonists, Autumn and Skylar, played by newcomers Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder. The story of their adolescence in New Jersey is identical to that of countless other American indie films (formula now valid only as a style model, given that Focus Features is produced here and even Universal is distributed). Autumn is an anonymous girl from the American province, with a passion for music, perhaps a love ended behind her, a melancholy mood in front of which her mother (played by singer Sharon Van Etten) can do nothing. Unwanted pregnancy comes as a sentence, the price to be paid for being a woman.
Eliza Hitman approaches the issue of abortion as an inevitable topic, outside a moral logic or a neo-feminist intention. Her film is the chronicle of a decision, a journey, a psychological and medical journey, a relationship between two girls who respect and love each other like two cousins, without being friends but mutually recognizing each other. Like two naturally supportive women.
The director’s feminism is above all a form of attention, a closeness to the characters that can be measured by the position of the camera, always very close to the bodies, by the duration of the single planes, by the precision of the assembly points or by the rhythm with which the stages of the journey they follow each other without ever releasing the tension: from the discovery of pregnancy to the first visits, from the decision to leave for the journey and then to the various situations lived in New York, in which Autumn gradually slips into a state of confusion and fear and the character of Skylar who a space of freedom and sweetness is carved out.