In the wake of The Babadook new ghost stories should be welcomed with open arms. However, Never Ever squanders its potential by being utterly tedious.
The first half of Never Ever actually intrigues as it charts the relationship between Rey (Mathieu Amalric) and Laura (Julia Roy) from its inception. Sudden camera movements and Bruno Coulais’ score create an atmosphere of unease leading up to Rey’s sudden demise.
Yet when the ghost story kicks off with Rey’s death, the film loses all of the goodwill it’s earned. Scenes comprise of Laura wandering around the empty house by herself, and she begins to see Rey’s ghost as a child-like being.
This second half is boring because Laura is static as a character. Aside from a couple of interactions with acquaintances who appear for about a minute, it’s impossible to discern anything about her character because her personality is threadbare. This leaves screenwriter Roy with the task of acting by herself, with a minimal amount of personality to inject her performance with.
When Never Ever eventually reaches its conclusion, the film reveals itself to be about the creative process. In so doing, it loses the original novella’s ambiguity, and comes across as supremely self-indulgent. On the one hand, this theme is kind of original for a ghost story, which as a genre usually deals with regret and memory. However, because the characters have little to no personality, the film lacks any sort of humanity and subsequently comes across as soulless.
If Never Ever musters any emotion at all, it’s exasperation, because it promises a lot at first. Yet, when all of the pieces are fitted together, the film betrays that it has nothing of consequence to convey. Even at a slight 86 minutes, Never Ever of film is a slog.
CAST: Julia Roy, Mathieu Amalric
DIRECTOR: Benoit Jacquot
WRITER: Julia Roy
SYNOPSIS: After her film-maker husband dies suddenly, a woman discovers a strange presence in their house.