Every scene in Never Steady, Never Still feels focused and intentional, like someone has agonized over how to most directly and honestly express the characters’ inner states.
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The hardship of it is immediate, but it never feels forced or exploitative. Hepburn cares for her characters too much to force matters in such a way
Hepburn’s eye for detail and nuance is exceptional, especially as she evocatively captures the extremes of the film’s imposing landscapes. This is an austere, demanding, deliberately paced picture that will reward the patient.
There are traces of early Ken Loach in Hepburn’s approach, but ultimately the filmmaker’s voice, with all its frankness and plain-spokenness, is her own.
Hepburn’s film eschews the expected emotional progression of a grief drama by focusing as much on continuing pain as sudden mourning.
This film becomes a journey of trials and tribulations with as much inspirational grace as crippling resentment.
It’s to Hepburn’s credit that Never Steady, Never Still avoids any of the histrionics or melodrama often associated with such stories. Instead, she offers keen-eyed, compassionate observation of the impact of illness that, while not shying away from its emotional toll, celebrates the strength and sanctuary a family can provide.
There are some heartfelt moments, but this is an opaque and frustrating experience.
Usually a tart-tongued scene-stealer, Henderson is devoid of her trademark hauteur in this remarkable performance.