There is a dearth of films that actually explore the complexities of male-female friendship — they always seem to drift into love stories and fairy-tale endings. Brett Allen Smith’s “Never” shoulders this burden but only relatively scratches the surface in this film about boys who like girls who like girls in Seattle.
Zelda Williams (daughter of Robin) plays singer-songwriter Nikki, a melancholy lesbian in the wake of a bad breakup when she meets Denim (Zachary Booth), the new kid in town and a ray of sunshine amid all the darkness and rain. With his fair, open face, he expresses an attractive, affable naivete that draws not just Nikki but other female attention as well. He feels like he’s known Nikki forever, particularly after he sees her perform, and they easily become best pals — when it’s clear he’s not her type. Williams sings beautifully (the songs are written by Nora Kirkpatrick, actress and former member of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) channeling the tone and naked emotion of Fiona Apple. As neurotic Nikki, she exudes a twitchy, throaty intensity.
While the intention to explore this particular kind of relationship is laudable, “Never” muddies the clarity of the story with unnecessary structural devices and doesn’t manage to sell the foundation of this friendship or subsequent highs, lows and abrupt turns it takes. It feels more like the sketch of an idea than a fully realized film, and it ends on a note that seems it should be the beginning or middle of the story, not the end.
Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica