You don’t see too many films that have as much guts as this one. Never Forever touches so many important issues such as interracial marriage, faith and religion. Sophie Lee is a white girl from a plain American family who marries Andrew, a successful Korean American lawyer from a high class family. The couple have a perfect life except for one thing. Andrew’s sperms aren’t strong enough for Sophie to have a baby. This one factor leads Andrew to attempt suicide. Next we see Ji Ha. Ji Ha is an illegal immigrant who is saving money so that he can bring his girlfriend to America, but because he’s living illegally, there are many things he can’t do like selling his sperms to a clinic for a small amount of money. After being rejected by the clinic, he comes home depressed to find a strange white woman sitting in front of his doorstep with a dangerous proposal. Every time he has sex with her she’ll give him 300dollars and if she gets pregnant he gets thirty thousand dollars in cash.
The most notable element of the movie is, needless to say, the outstanding performances by Vera Farmiga. 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. There are certain elements of Korean and Korean American culture that are played to near-caricature: the cold, oppressive mother-in-law and the zealous pastor, for instance. So, I must wonder if the story came from Kim’s own deliberation about her relationships and choices she has had to make as a Korean and a Korean American.
The conflict and circumstances involved unfortunately feels forced and contrived – luckily the actors generally lift up the material. The sex scenes were very tasteful and well-done. As the relationship develops, so clearly does the depth and honesty of their physical relations, to the point where Farmiga’s character is able to climax by simply daydreaming about her lover. The sheer loonyness of it all somehow seems to contribute to its real strength. Perhaps it is art defying rationality. Plus, her husband doesn’t notice when $30,000 goes missing from their bank accounts. Does all this seem to demand more willing suspension of disbelief than even most Hollywood fare?
That aside, it’s really a fairy tale about connection in spite of distance. The movie gives a rare and unique look at what happens in a relationship between an Asian man and a white woman. The camera seamlessly moves back and forth following the characters’ faces so that it feels like we’re worrying along with them. It helps tremendously that Farmiga gives such a good performance — you have to really understand her character if the movie is going to make any sense, and we do, thanks to Farmiga’s commitment to the role. Above all, I was very impressed about the film. There are a lot of layers in the story, each characters’ emotion and of course the light and shadow in the mis-en-scene. It’s a wonderful art movie.