27th Aug2019

‘Sometimes Always Never’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Bill Nighy, Sam Riley, ALice Lowe, Jenny Agutter, Tim McInnerny, John Westley, Ella-Grace Gregoire, Louis Healy, Alexei Sayle | Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce | Directed by Carl Hunter

sometimes-never-poster

Sometimes Always Never stars Bill Nighy as Alan, a Scrabble aficionado, who has spent the last few decades of his life along with his son Peter (Sam Riley) searching for his missing child. Alan and Peter begrudgingly meet and travel to a morgue to identify a body that may, or may not, be the long-lost son and brothers they have been looking to find. What commences is a beautifully poignant family drama that touches on the delicate balancing of love and loss.

Bill Nighy and Sam Riley are terrific as father and son. The chemistry both actors bring to their respective characters is phenomenal. Nighy’s arc is beautifully orchestrated on paper and even better brought to life with an outlandish stoic nature. How the actor embodies the thematics of grief is elegantly performed. Implementing subtle actions with an over-dependency on the past – blocking that of the present. Compared to Riley’s Peter, who juxtaposes and mirrors his father in every small detail.

There is a great deal of tension and strain regarding their characters and Nighy and Riley perfectly personify such tension and atmosphere with stoic passive-aggressive nature. The material they are working with from a screenplay by writer Frank Cottrell Boyce is not all that confrontational or fundamentally aggressive. It is written in a manner in that the film follows the emotional aftermath of a haunting circumstance that has dishevelled and corrupted their relationship. With that, we are treated to an engulfing boiling pot of atmosphere and fiery emotional dread.

Interestingly there is not that one scene, often found in dramas of this calibre, where one character goes for the jugular of the other. With the lack of such, the audience is treated to an organic blooming character piece. The film is not an overly dark piece either concerning the often dense subject matter. Writer Frank Cottrell Boyce manages to inject perfect moments of comedy throughout. Only in small instances, but when implemented, he lifts the material in a more relieving and compelling fashion. The inclusion of a romantic subplot of Alan’s grandson for one injects a warming anecdote to proceedings, and the cameo of British comedy great Alexei Sayle offers a bizarrely touching thread.

Sometimes Always Never is an enthralling intimate and engulfing feature that delves into the extraordinarily subtle corners of where grief takes you. It is an often dark and brooding drama with light inclusions of comedy. From the gloriously intimate writing by Frank Cottrell Boyce to the stunning filmmaking with outstanding symmetrical cinematography by Richard Stoddard and Stephen Haren. Elements that personify a glorious aesthetic and engaging picture from director Carl Hunter, who crafts a beautiful morbid picture of grief.

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