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Joshua Michael Stern
Sophie Lee has been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant. Her husband's family, devout Korean Catholics, prays for the couple. His failure to have a child is deeply shameful to him, so when he attempts suicide, Sophie tries something extreme: she follows an undocumented immigrant - a Korean who resembles her husband - from a fertility clinic to his apartment in New York City where she proposes to hire him to sire her child. She offers $300 per session and $30,000 if she gets pregnant. After several sessions, neither is able to keep emotion out of the arrangement. Where can this relationship go, and what about her husband? Will her actions save him and their marriage? Written by
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
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