Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.
An impoverished preacher who brings hope to the Miami projects is offered cash to save his family from eviction. He has no idea his sponsor works for the FBI who plan to turn him into a criminal by fueling his madcap revolutionary dreams.
Alan is a stylish tailor with moves as sharp as his suits. He has spent years searching tirelessly for his missing son Michael who stormed out over a game of scrabble. With a body to identify and his family torn apart, Alan must repair the relationship with his youngest son Peter and solve the mystery of an online player who he thinks could be Michael, so he can finally move on and reunite his family.
The title refers to the Sometimes, Always, Never Three-Button Rule. When wearing a suit with three buttons a man should sometimes button the top button, depending on the style of the suit, always button the middle button, and never button the bottom button. See more »
This movie takes places in the UK; UK Scrabble players will note the following inaccuracies:
A character in the movie says that there are 101 two-letters words playable in Scrabble, but the UK list of playable Scrabble words has had 120 or more two-letter words since at least 2003. There was a time when the North Amercan list of playable Scrabble words had exactly 101 playable two-letter words; it is now up to 107. (The UK list is up to 127.)
(Side note: ZO is playable in the UK but not in North America.)
The term "bingo" for playing all seven letters on one's rack in one term is primarily a North American usage; "bonus" is used more often in the UK. See more »
a portrait of a family desperately unable to communicate
A single delicious narrative conceit drives the delightful Sometimes. Always. Never. (2018). It takes its own sweet time getting there, but when it does, it hits home: you can be an expert in words and their rules but be incapable of meaningful expression. Add a Scrabble obsession, mix it with deep grief and guilt, and you have a portrait of a family desperately unable to communicate with each other.
The simplicity of the plotline stands in stark contrast to the complexity of its themes. Dapper rule-bound tailor Alan (Bill Nighy) is told that the body of his long-missing son Michael may have been found. He takes his younger estranged son Peter (Sam Riley) with him to identify the body, and at the morgue they meet other parents who are there for the same reason. It's a diversion that does little to advance the narrative, but it does provide comic respite from the pain of loss. Both relieved and disappointed with the outcome, Alan invites himself to stay with Peter and his family in the hope of reconciliation.
With a threadbare plot, the power of this film comes from its theatrical settings, intelligent banter, and Nighy's trademark whimsical mannerisms and stylised performance. The label 'fantasy drama' has been applied to this film but is mis-leading and manifestly inadequate. If there is an element of fantasy, it derives from the way many scenes are played out against backgrounds that are have a surreal, even an absurdist two-dimensional feel that resembles a theatre set. Like all absurdism, there is an artful space between the underlying emotional intensity and the futility of ever trying to understand it. The gravelly Nighy is a master of under-statement, with a unique talent for giving shallow dialogue depth and humour. It's all about contrasts: Alan's obsession with a missing son and neglect of the son he still has; his fastidious Dymo labelling of everything as a substitute for control in his world; and his ability to make light of the heaviest emotions.
If you are not a Nighy fan or prefer action-based stories, you may find little to appreciate in this film. In place of a forward-moving narrative it offers a portrait of a dysfunctional family torn apart over guilt and the inability to emotionally connect. The film's title is itself a parody of form over function, referring to the tailor's rule for how jacket buttons should be fastened: the top always, the middle sometimes, the bottom never. With no substantive relationship to the film's content, it's a rule as good as any on how to live one's life.
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