Bill Nighy, Alice Lowe and Jenny Agutter lead the cast of Sometimes, Always, Never – and here’s our review.


Certificate:
TBC
Director: Carl Hunter
Cast: Bill Nighy, Jenny Agutter, Alice Lowe, Sam Riley, Tim McInnerny
Release date: Out now
Reviewer: Charlotte Harrison

There’s a lot to be said for the word ‘quirky’. It’s a contentious adjective, with connotations seeing it associated with ‘weird’, ‘odd’ and ‘strange’. Sometimes, Always, Never is definitely very quirky, but not because it’s odd, strange or weird. It’s unusual, different and tenderly eccentric. It’s a story about a man (Nighy), a father of two sons, both of whom are lost. One is literally missing, his whereabouts unknown. The other (Riley) is metaphorically lost from his father. He has his own family now, a wife (Lowe) and a son, yet his brother’s absence continues to haunt both him and the relationship he has with his father.

What makes the film so difficult to describe is the fact it merges two movies in one. The film opens with a road trip, with father and son on the way to identify a body that may be their son/brother. There’s a stay in a hotel, alongside an unhappily married couple (Agutter and McInnerney) that is wonderfully surreal. The Scrabble match in particular, which links to the film’s overall love of words, will be a delight for any logophiles out there.

This narrative only lasts for about half of the movie. It shifts upon their return home to an intimate family home drama, and a chance for Lowe to shine. The respective neuroses of the family collide with their already fractious relations, making for conflict that may occasionally hit home for some audience members. That’s because the themes of childhood, father and son relationships and loss are so emotive. Nighy and Riley do them total justice, with the former giving a slightly more subdued performance than usual and the later reminding us that we just don’t see enough of him. This all plays out in a film that feels fresh and quietly ambitious, even if some moments are less effective than others. The costume and set design is wonderfully 70s pastiche, which only enhances the wit and warmth within Frank Cottrell Boyce’s charming script.

A sweet little gem that’s well worth a look.