Acts of Love
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/01/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"NEVER FOREVER is a well-developed, well-written and well-directed film by Gina Kim, and with an actress with the stature of Vera Farmiga in the difficult lead role, it is frustrating to see that this fine film didn't last on theater screens. But as with many of the other treasurable small independent films, this one feels even better in the privacy of the home - the small screen somehow allows the powerful emotions of the story to be more focused.
Sophie (Vera Farmiga) is the beautiful Caucasian wife of wealthy and respected Korean Andrew (David Lee McInnis) and the couple seem to have it all - looks, a close-knit family, beautiful home, etc. - but there is an underlying tension: Sophie and Andrew have been unable to conceive and bear a child, a fact that troubles Andrew's very orthodox Christian family and profoundly affects Andrew's sense of worth. Though the couple has sought professional assistance, their marriage remains barren. Andrew's fragile stance results in a suicide attempt and in trying to correct the cause of this tragedy, Sophie decides she will attempt to conceive from a donor. Because both members of a couple must consent to artificial insemination, Sophie's plan is thwarted except for one aspect: visiting the clinic she has selected is a young Korean man named Jihah (Jung-woo Ha) who is attempting to be a sperm donor but is rejected because he is an illegal immigrant. Overhearing this exchange, Sophie follows Jihah and finally discovers where he lives. She approaches him with a business deal - she will pay him $300. for each session and when she becomes pregnant she will pay him $30,000. Jihah is shy at first, but he is working in a meat packing plant and dry cleaners trying to save enough money to bring his girlfriend from Korea to the USA. Desperate for money Jihah consents and Sophie begins her visits to him when her cycle is conducive to conception. The relationship is one of quick polite encounters, careful to avoid interpersonal factors that might make either partner uncomfortable. But a sense of interdependence evolves, and when Sophie achieves pregnancy, the couple decides to part ways.
Sophie's pregnancy at first overjoys Andrew and his family and the couple's future looks bright. But both Sophie and Jihah are unable to dismiss the intimacy of the relationship they have developed, Andrew discovers Sophie's adventure, and the marriage falls apart while Jihah informs his girlfriend in Korea that he will never be able to bring her to America. At this vulnerable point the film simply ends - some years later Sophie is at the beach with her son and is again very pregnant and the viewer is left to decide the resolution.
Vera Farmiga is even more beautiful in this role than her many other roles and never for a moment loses out empathy and understanding of the decisions she makes. Both of the men are strong as are the various actors who flesh out the film. This is a tough topic to relate, but writer/director Gina Kim allows the acts of love to be the memorable echo the film leaves behind. Grady Harp, August 08"
Another bold role for Farmiga...
Steve Kuehl | Ben Lomond, CA | 07/14/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Gina Kim's first attempt at a big film with known actors was a courageous project with a harsh subject matter. She decided to write and direct a film that captures the personal transformation of an emotionally stunted woman, who in short order, sacrifices herself for the sake of her husband's happiness but ends up finding love, passion and inner peace through motherhood.
Vera Farmiga plays the lead role, showcasing her inter-racial Korean marriage to a wealthy New York lawyer. Their inability to have a child has driven a wedge between them that appears to be destroying their partnership. Through a variety of scenes and events, she decides to pay for the "donations" of another Korean man to help anonymously become pregnant and save her marriage. The remainder of the film shows the inevitable destruction of her relationship and the consequences of creating such a pact. Several other small plot lines play out to show the culture she lives in, including an overbearing mother-in-law and Korean pastor who both impose their faith-laden ways in trying to make her become pregnant.
The film is shot with long scenes of non-dialogue and lengthy views of New York City. The sex scenes are graphic yet passionate, mainly because Vera made all of her intimacy so heartfelt. She is very believable in displaying her transformation, and you realize the film becomes all about her and not the actual relationships. The ending was deliberately vague, but if you look closely at the small details, there are several clues as to what has happened.
The DVD has two small featurettes (3 and 7 minutes) that provide little regarding the film. One is shot in Korean with no English subtitles, the other is more of a blooper and gag reel of the actors during filming with no narration. Only 1/5 of the film is Korean with English subs, the rest is all in English. The film is a definite watch for Vera's fans, as the other two cast mates are awkward unknowns and the camera work of New York is sub-standard, but tolerable."