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
Farmiga's Performance and Fairy Tale Plot Transcend Film's Flaws
"Never Forever" is a deeply flawed movie replete with missed opportunities that whiz right past like rush hour buses in front of a motionless commuter. It is also well worth seeing, for a riveting performance by Vera Farmiga, a suggestive plot, and its treatment of unusual topics.
Sophie (Vera Farmiga), a beautiful, blonde, trophy wife, is determined to give Andrew (David McGinnis) her "master-of-the-universe," very wealthy and successful husband, the child he cannot father himself. He is infertile. Her husband is Korean, so she chases down Jihah, (Jung-Woo Ha) an illegal Korean immigrant, and offers him three hundred dollars for every time he has sex with her, and thirty thousand dollars once she gets pregnant. The two perform the act with complete alienation, but eventually develop feelings for each other.
The plot, is, of course, implausible. It reaches its height of silliness when Sophie tells Jihah she will pay him the bonus of $30,000 if she gets pregnant. Why the bonus? Would he really not have sex with this beautiful woman for three hundred dollars if he did not get the bonus? Are there other beautiful women out there offering bonuses of $25,000, and does Sophie need to remain competitive? Further, Sophie reveals no knowledge that a woman is fertile for a short window every month. Is she having sex with Jihah outside of that window of opportunity? Apparently so, because no seasons pass; all the action seems to take place during the same month.
Finally, why not just go to a sperm bank, or use a turkey baster? Indeed, why does Sophie remove every stitch of clothing? You really don't need to remove everything you've got on in order to perform the act necessary for pregnancy. The film's marketers show a healthy respect for the market appeal of nude Vera Farmiga.
Most of the action takes place in Sophie and Andrew's rich, cold, white, empty house and Jihah's squalid, lurid, red-and-green walled tenement. The director did not create enough atmosphere with these two sets. I never get a sense of Jihah's room. In one scene, it rains. That scene should have been milked for all it was worth: two strangers, separated by race and class, united for a moment, in a tiny apartment, as rain falls outside. Sigh.
Also, so much more could have been done with the sex scenes, which are rather flat and unimaginative. Sophie and Jihah connect, and transcend barriers of race and class, through this one act. I wish that they had been depicted with more eloquence.
In spite of the criticisms, this movie is well worth seeing. It isn't prurient. It's really a fairy tale about connection in spite of distance. Like a fairy tale, the film suggests and evokes more than it depicts, and the viewer's imagination is left to fill in the blanks.
"Never Forever" is also worth seeing because it is unusual. This is the only American film with a Korean-born Korean lead with a thick Korean accent that many viewers may ever see. Finally, the film is worth seeing for Vera Farmiga's riveting performance. She conveys volumes with a glance. Sophie is not very bright, and has limited strength. She sits around her gilded cage all day, while her maid cleans her house and her husband works. She's, simply, not very likable, but Farmiga makes Sophie very watchable.
Jung-Woo Ha as Jihah is also fascinating. He's not particularly good looking. He makes for a convincing illegal immigrant. He is short, slight, and wears stained t-shirts. As the film draws closer to him and spends more time with him, though, the viewer can see what is special about him, and comes to care about him this process parallels the experience of falling in love. At first the other may come across as not that special, but as two people get closer together, they see what is special about the other.
6 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?