Derik Badman's Journal

2020-11-18 08:38

Eliza Hittman's Never Rarely Sometimes Always, which I watched last night, was a much more successful movie than her It Felt Like Love (which I watched last month). To say I "enjoyed" it is probably an overstatement as it is a really downbeat movie. The basic plot is about a 17 year old girl in Pennsylvania who finds out she is pregnant and travels with her friend/cousin to New York City to get an abortion because in PA she'd have to get a parent's consent. Not a plot that screams light hearted or fun, but also Hittman does not play it for excessive drama. It's sad and moving without feeling like it's relentlessly grim. As a whole it felt very real, almost documentary. There are no surprising turns of events; there are no plot twists. What makes it such a slow horror to watch is the reality of the situation the girl has been put in by our misogynistic Christian society, from the way her dad and the boy (who we must assume is the father, though at no point is it made explicit in any way) use the word "slut", to the way the woman at the PA clinic the girl goes to has her watch an anti-abortion video and tells her how she'll feel completely different when she's actually holding the baby, to the protesters outside the clinic in NYC; and the oblivious young man who basically exchanges money for a date and some time making out with the girl's friend. All of the little violences are so blasé and normal and it makes it all the more horrible than if there were scenes of explicit physical/sexual violence (there are none).

Like her previous film, though to a lesser degree, the film is shot with lots of close ups, particular the faces of the two girls. Everything is closed in, you rarely see full bodies or full views of the background. NYC is almost all indoors, stations and clinics and dingy mall-like restaurants and such. The depth of field is quite narrow throughout, focused faces and blurred backgrounds, it makes it all very internal. The color is also overwhelmingly yellow which adds a jaundiced sickness to the whole thing. Really powerful movie, definitely not an easy one to recommend though.