A teen goes to New York for an abortion in this blunt, matter of fact drama

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The stark abortion drama "Never Rarely Sometimes Always" is so matter of fact it could pass for a documentary. 

Writer-director Eliza Hittman ("Beach Rats") tells the story of Autumn (Sidney Flanigan), a 17-year-old grocery clerk in Pennsylvania who travels to New York with her cousin, Skylar (Talia Ryder), to get an abortion. That's it. There's no fireworks, no histrionics, no distractions. It's just the facts, delivered in a frank, straightforward manner. 

That's the quiet power of Hittman's storytelling. She's not here to preach or get in the way of the simplicity of her story. She stands back with a documentarian's eye and lets the tale tell itself. 

Newcomer Sidney Flanigan, who has the subtle features of Saoirse Ronan, plays Autumn with the right mix of attitude, fortitude and vulnerability. She's in over her head and she knows it. But she has to go through with the procedure, because the alternatives aren't feasible. She's thinking the way a teenager would think. 

She faces constant hurdles in her path. She's shuffled between clinics. She has mandatory overnight stays. She doesn't have the money to pay for anything. She handles each problem as it's presented out of necessity. Flanigan wears the weight of her decision in her slumped posture, her clipped answers, her heavy eyes.

"Never Rarely Sometimes Always" is just as heavy as those eyes, without ever reaching for the obvious or going over-the-top. Its strength is in its restraint, and the way that it takes a situation, presents its characters and keeps things very, very real.

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

'Never Rarely Sometimes Always'

GRADE: B

Rated PG-13: for disturbing/mature thematic content, language, some sexual references and teen drinking

Running time: 101 minutes

Available VOD

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