September 24, 2019

VIFF 2019 | Bill Nighy Spells Out 'Sometimes Always Never'

"I'm [...] the one who didn't run away."
VIFF 2019—Starring Bill Nighy and Sam Riley as estranged father and son, Alan and Peter, reunited after an impromptu trip together, rocker turned filmmaker Carl Hunter's buddy film Sometimes Always Never (aka Triple Word Score) uses a surrealist, artificial aesthetic to tell its whimsical story of grief, mystery, and messy family histories.

The offbeat British dramedy focuses on its unique style and acting to tell a wistful tale of reconciliation using motifs like Scrabble games and other wordplay. Hunter's retro filmmaking techniques include rear projection screens, stagey set work, rudimentary animation, and other tricks to evoke a strong sense of nostalgia deftly.

Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce, Sometimes Always Never hardly lacks wit or verve in its sartorial scripting. Nighy delivers a somewhat non sequitur monologue about Canada's lack of marmite that tells you everything you need to know about where the story is heading.

Bill Nighy Carl Hunter | Sometimes Always Never | VIFF 2019

It's not immediately clear where Hunter's film is heading with its mystery about certain familial elements yet Nighy manages to pull his aloof schtick while Riley grounds the increasingly stranger antics of their version of somewhere in Britain. Cinematographer Richard Stoddard's stark photography contrasts the artificial settings with the insular, restrained emotions of the film's characters.

Nighy and Riley make their characters' unconventional reconciliation mostly delightful despite their detachment. Sometimes Always Never feels visually dreamlike yet emotionally real thanks to Hunter and Boyce. Its artful quality never distracts from the performances as the film takes its theatrical, stage-like composition seriously.

Sometimes Always Never screens at the 2019 Vancouver International Film Festival as part of the Panorama and Contemporary World Cinema streams.

More | YVArcade / THR

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