Sometimes Always Never (2018) Poster

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6/10
Difficult to categorise but enjoyable enough.
Pjtaylor-96-13804415 June 2019
'Sometimes Always Never (2019)' is a bit of an oddity, I suppose, because of its combination of mundanity and quirkiness. It tells a grounded - though, ever-so-slightly absurdist - story with a real emotional weight to it, often with genuine subtlety but more frequently with a strange sort of passivity, and tends to toe the line between comedy and drama to the point that a distinction between the two isn't really worth making. It's not like it's particularly unfocused or haphazard, however, as it certainly feels calculated. Yet, even in its almost articulated unwillingness to conform to convention, there's a sort of intangible sense that it doesn't quite know how odd it is. It's exactly what it wants, and needs, to be. As you can tell, it's a fairly difficult experience to categorise. All in all, though, it's an enjoyable one. It has a compelling central theme and a nice set of main characters, even if the former isn't fleshed out as much as you'd like thanks to a somewhat baggy mid-section. The tone of the thing also fluctuates a little. Usually, it balances the serious with the silly, making sure that both do a decent job of developing character, but there are some moments that make you wish the movie would make its mind up as to whether or not its world is actually 'heightened' (which could be pushed further, if that is the case). It sometimes sounds overly 'written', too; this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the sequences where you actually notice the writing pale in comparison to the ones where you don't. I'll also say that, while it's well directed overall, there are some visual stylistic choices that I don't think pay off. Of course, these issues don't prevent the flick from being generally entertaining. It's somewhat endearing, with great performances and (from what came through in the final result) a good screenplay. It's not perfect, or indeed overly satisfying, and its odd tone - or general 'status', I guess - does make it a bit difficult to get a handle on. Still, it's a good effort that nicely tells a personal, rather unique story. 6/10
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8/10
a portrait of a family desperately unable to communicate
CineMuseFilms5 May 2019
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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7/10
Still and clear photography!!!
Irena_Spa19 November 2019
It is a joy to watch it. First, because of its style of shooting and second, because of its clear and rich colors. It looks as an brilliant school art, designed precisely. On the other hand it is a good story, done in some traditional and emotional way, and who is playing in. Bill Nighy is as always excellent, elegant and charming.
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8/10
Loved the quirkiness of the film
nmsos17 March 2019
I loved the movie. Bill Nighy is superb in anything he does, the rest of the cast were wonderful. It was written with humour, wittiness with a hint of sadness.
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8/10
Such a clever script and concept-
tm-sheehan4 April 2019
What a clever quirky little movie that proves when done well the British succeed where other fail.

No plot or spoilers here as it would ruin the movie but all the performances headed by Bill Nighy as Alan are superb. Bill Nighy plays droll eccentric old men better than anyone I can think of I can't imagine anyone else doing justice to this role. The last time I saw Bill Nighy in a movie was The Bookshop and even though it was not the starring role ,he played an almost Dickensian character he stole that movie

The only thing I'll say about the story is that it's about two families,both have suffered loss and both are bought together by the game of Scrabble.

The supporting cast of Sam Riley as Peter Alan's son and Jenny Agutter ,(out of habit as Sister Jullienne) well and truly in this film plays Margaret touchingly and with great humour ,this is a very funny movie ,almost a comedy but with a lot of pathos Tim McInnerny as Margaret 's droll husband is also very good. Also the rest of the cast Alice Lowe ,as Peters wife and Oliver Sindcup as young Peter are very very good.

Frank Cottrell Boyce ,who wrote screenplays for Goodbye Christopher Columbus ,Railway Man,and Hillary and Jackie among other films and television is one of the most respected writers for the British screen and it's easy to understand why.

I don't know much about director the Carl Hunter but if Sometimes Always Never is an example of his directing I hope to see more of his movies.

Don't miss this one.
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9/10
Incredibly unique drama
masonsaul21 February 2020
Sometimes Always Never is an incredibly unique drama that's stylized, colourful, very funny and emotional. Bill Nighy and Sam Riley are both amazing and Alice Low is great. Carl Hunter's direction is fantastic and it's well filmed and colourful. The pacing is great and the music by Edwyn Collins and Sean Read is excellent. However, it's brought down slightly by the driving sequences which do look cheap in comparison to everything else.
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10/10
A WORK OF ART..!
kmpy16 January 2020
Every shot of this film is a work of art - the Director, Artistic Director and Cinematographer should all win awards for this film... The sets and backdrops are just wonderful...! I could quite happily leave the film on freeze-frame on my wall mounted tv as a painting... The casting was inspired, the dialog is great and the whole thing has just the perfect level of quirkiness. When it finished, I went straight on to to see what else the Director had done and was amazed to see that the answer was, very little else... why..? (Please let's have more of his work!). All in all, the best film I've seen in a long time.
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10/10
Nigh on genius
Phil_M_A_Kerr20 March 2019
Quaint, quiet, quirky - call it what you will. It wore its heart on its sleeve and didn't pretend to be anything more than it was;- a personal tale about family and the effect of loss on those who remain. Even without all the crash, boom, bang of a tentpole blockbuster, a movie can still pack a punch. Moreso if it delves into the metaphysical. Bill Nighy is in top form but so are the supporting cast in less bombastic but crucial ... supporting roles. Alexei Sayles is surreal! Heaps of effort has gone into making the visuals of each 'simple' scene pop off the screen. You appreciate so much more of these modest films when you see them on the big screen. Do yourselves a favour. I laughed quite a bit too.
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10/10
gentle masterpiece
urbanfield17 March 2019
Loved this one, beautiful in every way. Judicious use of animation and old home video.
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7/10
An Enjoyable Flick!
peeedeee-9428116 October 2019
Just to address the marmite topic brought up by another reviewer: It was illustrated in the film that Billy Nighy's character Alan was not a reliable story teller. He liked to tell tall tales, like the one about the grandmother with the coal seam in the basement. Going back to the movie, I thought it was quirky like everyone mentioned. I knew it wasn't going to be a straight forward dramedy based on the bizarre, artificial riding in car scenes. It looked like it was done in a 1950s B movie style. Thankfully the movie dials back on that and delivers a fairly straight forward, drama comedy framed around the game of scrabble, but really about Alan and his son Peter, as they try to solve the mystery of the missing son Michael. The body viewing scene (which we don't see) was particularly odd, because we were told that Michael went missing many many years ago when he and Peter were still children. So why would they be called to identify a body? If it was an adult's body, how would they know it was him. Usually they do DNA tests anyway. Other than that weird start, and some scene involving a boat (or did it?), much of the movie follows a fairly linear format. I think it helps that every character in the movie had something to offer the movie, and generally everyone was likeable. You kind of hoped there would be a resolution of the 'mystery', but ultimately it didn't really matter. Nothing is really 'solved' by the ending, except maybe Peter wasn't as resentful of his missing brother's 'Prodigal Son' stature, and maybe Alan realized it was time to focus on his existing family.
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7/10
Quirky!
claremills-6064423 July 2019
If it wasn't for the presence of mobile phones and computer games you'd think that this was set in the 60's ! Bill Nighy is sparsely twinkly, just enough to make me stay in my seat for the entire film. A good cast, an intriguing storyline, almost a period piece. I think Bill must have it in his contract for every piece he does to wear a good coat. (Apart from Dads Army).
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6/10
Bill Nighy and Marmite
backofthevan12 July 2019
I will watch pretty much any film with the wonderful Bill Nighy. Just watched this one and not sure what I think of it. His character, wildly knowledgeable when it comes to Scrabble, was 100% wrong when he stated that Marmite is banned in Canada. No, my friend, it definitely isn't. I have a jar in my own cupboard. I actually had to have a look and confirm that it is, indeed, Marmite, and not the poor substitute Vegemite (which he claimed was the only option for Canadians). Marmite has been available here for at least 10 years and, since the film obviously takes place in the present, he was just plain wrong.

Now I'm thinking that if the availability of Marmite is my lingering thought after seeing this film, how memorable was it? It DOES meander, as others have said. It DOES try awfully hard to be visually quirky to the point of being absurd at times. It does convey somewhat the damage done to people when someone they love goes missing. There's no closure; they spend their lives from that point on grieving, wondering, blaming, searching and, likely, never really having a carefree moment again. That was certainly brought home to me in all its sadness. If you need cheering up, this is not the film for you.

Is this a vitally important film? No. Not even sure why it was made. It's like reading a short story, which is what it was based on, finished in 90 minutes or so and easily forgotten.
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5/10
Not even my love for Bill Nighy could draw me in
mulholland-lily19 March 2019
I so wanted to love this film. All the right ingredients but none of the pathos required to draw me in. Every time I got close to feeling something the film flashed up another Wes Anderson-esque quirk-with none of the meaning that so cleverly underpins his work-and made me feel like I was a spectator. Great ideas suffered from a flat execution.
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2/10
Style over any semblance of substance
gosling_richard-4009116 March 2019
There's honestly nothing in the movie story wise. Instead it's a film made like a love letter to the worst parts of Wes Anderson. Angles, gimmicks, kitsch - and repeat and repeat and repeat.

No pacing, no heart and no memorable moments

Very disappointing
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5/10
Really awkward
paulsmart10117 June 2019
I rarely dislike films but I found this one painfully awkward and predictable.
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10/10
A family story
adamkortvelyesi10 June 2019
Really loved every minutes of the film. For me it was a real story with humor and sadness in the same time. I'm not a young man (40y), so I had a lot of similar experience with my family. The life is the same, you cannot avoid sad things, but always can laugh after the hard times. Thats family, you love and hate eachother, but at the end always love there. The actors were excellent and Bill was the one as usual. I'm happy to be able this film in artcinema even in Hungary. Of course this film is not for the crowd. They just should watch Avengers 11. :) And finally it was preatty good to see how british people are living. The small house with uspters, small cars, and scrabble of course. :) Really liked them.
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8/10
Quirky, stylish yet with genuine substance
mike-0936817 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
There is an almost surreal air to this film, which at first I found disconcerting: the editing and the photography a little like good, but not perfect, animation; the performances, somehow awkwardly theatrical. Nonetheless, as we learn about the characters: their backstory and motivation, the reasons all begin to make delicious sense. Could it be something to do with father Alan's ( Bill Nighy) insistence when younger upon, for instance, buying his sons Revell rather than Airfix models and playing the cheap substitute for, rather than the genuine Scrabble - a game of which provoked one son to vanish and leave brother (Sam Riley) feeling both bereft and unable to fill the place in his father's life. Is the furniture in the house stylishly, yet incongruously from the 1970s to remind everyone what the everyday world may have looked like when brother Mike disappeared? A beautifully paced and framed film. Wonderful performances, from Nighy, Riley and Alice Lowe as his wife. Tim McInnerny, Jenny Agutter and, briefly, Alexei Sayle, provide those awkward, yet somehow consistent characters; 'misfits' who make our key characters, and us realise that nobody's life is really that strange.
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2/10
A student movie where experiments rarely work.
bobbsaunders16 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
How can a movie that has so much wrong with it, be watchable through to the end? Well this is such a film. Deeply flawed on just about every level the film leans heavily on Bill Nighy's screen presene to sustain audience attention. But even Bill needs a strong director and this film has been directed by a 'wannabe auteur' who hasn't even got out of film school diapers. There is not one technical area that he doesn't mangle, while the script misses so much potential. Set in Merseyside we have so few examples of scouser wit to enjoy, and even the voice coach only manages to squeeze a slight scouse accent out of Nighy. Performances all round unanimously lack emotion, some actors look as if they have no idea why they are there and some scenes seem to have been edited in from another production by mistake e.g. the Alexy Sayle scene. YET I was amused at times (especially the Bill and Jenny bathroom scene) and loved a few little bits of whimsy, and I did stay to the end. Am not sure why, but I do believe you have to see weak films to really enjoy the strong ones.
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1/10
The last tiles in the bag
arthurdaleystrilby2 July 2019
There is absolutely nothing to this film. Thin story, underdeveloped characters and a meandering pace. It tries to be smart and 'cool' by mixing the present with a 60s retro vibe which makes absolutely zero sense when the main character is playing online Scrabble half of the time. Quite what Bill Nighy was doing in this Ill thought out meandering mess is anyone's guess. To use a Scrabble analogy, it's like drawing 7 consanants with no vowels. Avoid.
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7/10
A Confusing Plot! (Matches The Game I Guess)!
Comicfilmnerd19 August 2019
The plot of the movie is very hard to follow and requires concentration like a game of scrabble would. But after thinking about the movie for a while, I understood the plot and it all made sense. (It also helped me with a few scrabble pointers.) For the concentration to understand, I give it a 7/10.
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7/10
See It for Bill Nighy
evanston_dad10 November 2020
I may never stop getting this film's title confused with another movie that also came out this year, "Never Rarely Sometimes Always."

"Sometimes Always Never" is a quirky and mostly forgettable little film, but it's anchored by a strong performance by Bill Nighy, as a dad on a meandering quest to track down a grown son who's gone missing. The film gives off Wes Anderson vibes, albeit much more subdued and melancholy ones. The production design gives the film some visual interest and a certain sense of style. It's one of those movies that I thoroughly enjoyed while in the middle of and can barely remember after having seen it, which is I guess my review of it in a nutshell. It does manage to build toward a modestly effective emotional pay off, I remember that much. For that reason, though it's not likely to blow your mind, the film also doesn't feel like a waste of time.

Grade: B+
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5/10
Sometimes Always Never
henry8-313 January 2020
A man's life is taken up with trying to find his lost son who ran out after a row when playing scrabble, an important game in the the man's life and which he come to believe has links to his son's whereabouts.

Quirky and just a bit weird, this is a likeable, mostly light hearted tale that almost entirely relies on Bill Nighy's particular style of delivery to pull off which it just about does. It is a small, rather unique, stage like creation which is often quite funny to watch with Nighy front and centre throughout the whole piece, but with a fine supporting cast - nice to see Jenny Agutter do an atypical role for a change - and so well.

Not for everyone though.
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8/10
Offbeat, Quirky and Fun While Helping To Encompass the Morose Narrative
MrLucasWarHero8 August 2019
Wonderful subject matter with a substandard execution. This family comedy-drama is rife with full-bodied characters and quirky moments delivered with a rich but dry humor. While I enjoyed the mise-en-scène very much, the cinematography was slightly less than adequate and although Bill Night's performance was spot-on his costars were a notch above mediocre. It hit some lulls at parts, but the narrative ultimately powered through and came to a satisfying finish.
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Bill Nighy shines in a family comedy/drama story.
TxMike1 December 2020
First off, the catchy title is simply a reference to guidance wearing a 3-button suit coat, sometimes the top button, always the middle button, never the bottom button. The main character is a tailor, he gives the advice to his teen grandson

Bill Nighy is Alan, Scrabble fan with two adult sons, and a teen grandson. One son, Michael, is missing, apparently he got up from a Scrabble game and left, they never heard from him again.

Several times the script references the Biblical prodigal son story, the one son who remained connected feels he isn't getting the love he deserves and all dad cares about is finding the missing son.

The story is a family relationship drama but sprinkled with humor. Bill Nighy makes it a worthwhile movie, all the other characters could have been played by almost anyone. However it was also good to see Jenny Agutter in a small role, she was mid-60s during filming, who could forget her performance in "Walkabout" when she was still a teenager?

I watched this on Amazon streaming movies.
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10/10
Scrabble is my favorite game
sjanders-8643014 November 2020
Bill Nighy's son walks out after a scrabble game never to be seen again. Now the younger son shows his love for his dad. They play scrabble in the woods. They sing and sit around a fire in the beach. The family heals over the words on a scrabble board.
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