For its first hour, Never Rarely Sometimes Always struck me as a curiously distant indie drama—a dispassionate procedural about the logistical challenges facing a pregnant 17-year-old traveling from her rural home in Pennsylvania to have an abortion in New York City. Writer-director Eliza Hittman (Beach Rats) offers filmmaking that’s mostly matter-of-fact; Sidney Flanigan, as Autumn, captures the standoffishness of a teenager almost too well. At first glance it’s as if the masterful Romanian abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days had been remade as a piece of scruffy American neorealism. But then comes The Scene. Having finally made it, with the help of her cousin Skylar (Talia Ryder), to a Planned Parenthood center in Manhattan (after dragging a rolling suitcase aboard a series of buses and trains and through an all-nighter at an arcade when the Brooklyn Planned Parenthood they first found wasn’t able to perform the procedure she needed), Autumn sits in an office with a counselor (Kelly Chapman) who gently guides her through an intake interview about her past sexual relationships. For each question, Autumn is asked to answer with one of the words from the movie’s title. “Has a partner ever refused to use protection?” “Has a partner ever been violent?” “Have you ever been forced into a sexual act?” In a single take—the camera doesn’t leave Flanigan’s face for almost a full five minutes—we see the mask of stoicism slowly, reluctantly, blessedly slip away. With each tiny twitch, each trembling lip, each sorrowful sniff, we come to understand how fraught this young woman’s experience of sexuality has been, and how little of it has been in her control. It’s a towering moment of film acting, after which the entire movie opens up to reveal deep recesses of understanding and empathy. Any discussion of abortion, from whatever your vantage point, would be better served by viewing this.