Sometimes Always Never: Another Review

Sometimes Always Never

Sometimes Always Never: Another Review – Loss is our most bitter pill to swallow in life, and it only becomes worse when the loss is avoidable or unable to be fully explained. Carl Hunter’s “Sometimes Always Never” deals with this kind of loss, the kind that tares you apart as you look for answers. We follow Alan (Bill Nighy) and his son Peter (Sam Riley) on a search for the other son of the family, Michael, who an indiscriminate amount of time ago, ran away from home during a game of scrabble. 

Instantly the tone of what one would assume to be a sombre film is proven to be instead somewhat quirky and eccentric, much like Alan himself. When we first meet him, he stands solitary at a beach, before beginning to wander around handing out missing person posters and muttering to people who are not there. This strangeness lasts throughout the film, but it becomes more channelled, mainly towards scrabble, and more proactively finding Michael. 

Soon Peter and Allen are off on the road, and ironically, neither of them can find the words to express how daunting a trip they are taking. The sinister reason they are travelling begins to become apparent to us as the two of them bicker. They are heading to a morgue to potentially identify Michael’s body. However, they refuse to discuss it, instead opting to rehash long-held resentments and bitterness from childhood. Only making things worse is the fact that Alan hustles a couple staying at the same inn as them by convincing them he isn’t any good at scrabble, then promptly beating them. 



From here, a beautiful and poignant story plays out about connecting through words you can’t bring yourself to say. We meet Alan’s daughter in law Sue (Alice Lowe) and grandson Jack (Louis Healy) who form the basis of another dysfunctional parental relationship. It is only when grandad decides to stay with them that we begin to see his unique talent for bringing people together through words in scrabble, which is the films greatest asset provided by the work of Bill Nighy. 

In portraying Alan, Nighy is perfect. He brings to life the character’s idiosyncrasies with uncanny consistency. There is no one out there who could have quite played the role this way and thanks to that he steals the show. As we learn more about him, and how deeply broken losing Michael has left him, all his strangeness shines in a new light and Nighy nails this transformation. Come the credits he produces a character who is so easy to empathise with genuinely, and whom you want nothing more for than to reconnect with his remaining son. 

However, outside of the fantastic central performance, the film can often fail to stick the landing in other aspects. The story, for the most part, balances the light humour with the dark concept, but there are times where the full weight of things fails to become apparent. The most jarring instance being the couple Alan hustles in scrabble and how they too are heading to the morgue to see if their son lies waiting for them. There is one line that mentions the concept of Alan hoping it’s their son because that means it isn’t Michael, but it just isn’t enough to explain their haunting presence, and makes their characters seem totally out of place when they appear later in the film. Sue and Jack, whilst likeable, are also simplistic and aloof for the most part. They had the makings to be so much more if the film offered an element of depth.

Sometimes uneven, always endearing and never unlikeable, Sometimes Always Never evolves into an enjoyable dramedy thanks to the work of Bill Nighy and a family unit you can’t help but love.


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Mark is an Australian who likes movies, a lot. Now he studies and writes about them. Will watch anything Scorsese has ever touched.

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