Film

Review: Sometimes Always Never

7 June 2019

There’s something beautiful and amusing in contradictions. It creates the illusion of control. The reality is that our ability to gain what we most desire is controlled as much by our actions and environment, as it is by honest to goodness bad luck. Sometimes you can set off to create a great narrative, for it to fall short because it tried too much. The insecure poet wants to appear more intelligent than they are, so they concoct elaborate schemes and use complicated literary device. Allusion. Hypophora. Oxymoron. Procatalepsis. Sometimes this works. Sometimes never. What is certain though is our capacity for contradiction. This holds true for Sometimes Always Never, both through the over complication of simple scenes and the moving tale.

One of the main draws was always going to be the charming and thoroughly British Bill Nighy and he doesn’t disappoint. Starring as Alan in a drawling and sentimental performance, he is a father desperate to find his long lost son. He is reluctant and reserved when required, never becoming too emotional or out of touch. His actions give off an air of desperation but his despair is more dignified, if that can be said? He is an Englishmen, and this tale of simplicity is at its best when it sticks to its Englishness. Sam Riley supports as Peter, Alan’s other son, and to say that he supports is an overstatement. For some reason he got under my skin and was rather annoying. He overreacted in the movie and it felt as if he never connected or knew what he wanted to do with the character. Whether that was the aim of the performance or a mistake is hard to tell, but it is a distraction to the films flow and damaged the narratives simplistic verve.

Sometimes Always Never is at its best when it stays true to its core. It is a simple narrative. One that is hardly resolved and has no beginning, middle and end in the larger scheme of things. But it is a wonderful character analysis. An amazing exploration of love, despair and hope. These are simple and core human emotions. And they are thoroughly dissected and twisted and attacked and found and lost when staying the course. One could leave the film considering it a waste of time or leave moved and reflective. I think the Director Carl Hunter was aiming for latter. Most peoples’ lives are lukewarm. Unless you can find the simple joys you are going to be painfully disappointed.

Hunter’s concept and execution is independent cinema at its most important. Not a brilliant film, nor a poor one. It had the capacity to reconsider cinematography. A notable scene at the morgue used a long shot with wide angles and sweeping considerations. I understand the intention was to see all the characters on screen to get a full picture of what was happening, but there was something jarring about it. You felt like something was off but you couldn’t explain why. In this emotional scene, it would have been more suitable to do a close up shot of the characters to get a sense of what they were experiencing. It was odd choices like this that overcomplicated a movie which was at its best when acting with singular purpose. But that is independent cinema. It allows for the capacity to experiment and sometimes that just fails.

Occasionally Hunter wants to change the theme of the following passage so he displays a dictionary definition of a word to set the tone. This was unnecessary and added quirkiness where perhaps a more serious tone would have produced a more feeling final product. The occasional oddity or quirk was enough to leave me laughing, so the efforts to make the film appear more sophisticated were unnecessary for its execution. For the story alone was enough to move an audience.

3.5/5 stars

Sometimes Always Never is showing at Cinema Nova


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