Never Rarely Sometimes Always
*** When we first meet 17-year-old Autumn (newcomer Sidney Flanigan), she's singing in her high school talent show. Everyone around her is dressed up in '50s and '60s garb, performing dance routines or mouthing oldie lyrics, and Autumn is clearly out of place. Even though she's belting out the Exciters' 1963 song "He's Got the Power," it sounds more like something you'd hear on the radio today, and she makes sure to raise her voice when she gets to the chorus: "He makes me do things I don't want to do." The crowd boos, but we already love her, and for the next two hours director Eliza Hittman puts Autumn's entire life on display. In this harsh and heartwarming portrait, Autumn struggles to get an abortion as a poor teenager in the suburbs of Pennsylvania—the title of the film refers to the four optional answers to a health worker's questions about her sexual history. She and her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder) end up taking a bus to New York City in order to terminate the pregnancy without parental consent. Along the way, we are confronted with a bleak style of filmmaking that recalls another feminist triumph, Barbara Loden's first and only feature from 1970, Wanda. With 16 mm close-ups and barren landscapes that mirror Autumn's inner despair, Hittman has expertly shot the picture through the protagonist's eyes. It may not be pretty, but it is worth witnessing yet another female fight for control of her life and body. R. ASHER LUBERTO. On Demand.