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Sometimes Always Never is not the worst kind of bad movie, it’s the saddest kind of bad movie. It has an aesthetic to it, a collection of suitable actors, and a kind story, but it’s also incredibly bland, making for a disappointing experience. Director Carl Hunter is capable of making a movie in his own way, his style feels like a mixture of Wes Anderson and Mike Leigh, but it’s not enough to motivate a reaction. Sometimes Aways Never is a take on the parable of the prodigal son. Alan (Bill Nighy) has received info that long missing son might be a discovered body at a morgue, where his absence created a rift between his present son Peter (Sam Riley). The two embark to see if it is the lost son, but when it’s not, father Alan makes it an opportunity to reconnect with Peter and his family. Dad is more burden than a buddy, where a lot of the problems arrive from his obsession with the game scrabble, but the bonding may also lead to the discovery of a new family connection. Sometimes Always Never amounts to a few laughs and a lot of empty time spent. It’s sometimes never good.

An actor that I will always respect is Bill Nighy. He’s always game for any character, whether he is singing and dancing in Love, Actually or killing vampires in Underworld, he’s never too good for a role. His work here is good, playing someone that is a mix between brilliant and eccentric, while carrying the load of the narrative. That last statement is why Sometimes Always Never fails to succeed. Nighy is not the kind of actor that “excites”, he’s just solid. The screenplay by Frank Cottrell Boyce and the direction from Hunter hopes to be quirky enough, with blunt personalities, and sequences with backgrounds that look like cutouts of construction paper. When it is at it’s best, Sometimes Always Never is not funny enough, and too cute to have an edge. It’s not bad, just extremely forgettable.

I don’t want to trash the entire experience. Nighy’s character of Alan has depth, develops an adorable relationship with his teenage grandson Jack (Louis Healy), while his passion for the game of scrabble is infectious. The problem is not in the efforts from all involved, but a narrative incredibly lacking in energy. The cinematography tries to make up for things with wide angle shots, smart use of mis-en-scene, and deliberate framing. I was reminded at times of the films by the Cohen brothers, a team that creates their own cinematic language, but I would never call boring. The story matters first and must have a pulse for us to admire the style. Sometimes Always Never is the complete opposite of all of those things.

I haven’t even mentioned the performance by Sam Riley as the bitter lone son, but that’s because his work here is reminiscent of a angsty teen, disappearing into his room, never to be heard from till dinner roles around. The best I can say is that Bill Nighy is fun, never too melodramatic, and delightful enough to keep us charmed. That’s still not enough to inspire me to recommend Sometimes Always Never. It’s an independent movie like this that will just disappear into the ether of cinema. That’s a guarantee to be the final result. Sometimes, always.


Written by: Leo Brady

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