The second feature length film of the Korean ex-patriot filmmaker to the United States, Gina Kim, Never Forever is simultaneously the portrait of a woman who gradually emerges through a path of personal struggle, and a vision of the bitterness which grows as the story progresses.
A New York high society couple made up of a young woman, Sophia, and her husband of Korean origin are trying to have a child. Various failed attempts to have a child have increased the husbands’ depressed state and he has already tried to commit suicide. Chance puts the woman in the presence of a young illegal immigrant from Korea who she meets in a dry cleaner’s. She makes him a strange proposal. She will pay him for him to make her pregnant. Each time they have sex she will pay him until she falls pregnant.
The clandestine meetings which follow depict sex without any apparent feeling but gradually the machinery wears down and the functionality of sex gives way to something else: desire and feelings which complicate the arrangement between the two characters.
Worded like this, the development of the film seems devoid of surprises. However one guesses that the filmmaker's vision was a willful rereading of "modernity", no doubt marked by feminism and the rules of classic melodrama.
A CRUSHING SOCIAL ORDER
Acting like she did, the young woman obeyed the injunctions of the patriarchal order and the conventional by which she is a victim. Her husband’s family, practicing Christians, created insidious pressure compounded by the psychological fragility of her husband.
It is relatively easy to forgive what at first guess appears to be a mechanical device built upon ideological foundations to what is actually driving the story: subtle Pointillist touches and a graceful interpretation. For Never Forever rests largely on its lead actress, Vera Farmiga, and her ability to make substantial and credible the strange progress of her character, an irresistible evolution whose intimate transformation is ultimately quite moving.
But where Never Forever succeeds is the manner in which it asserts itself within this social order of steel which tries to repress what is right. Without revealing the conclusion, it can be noted that the opposition between the sexes (male-female) and races (American-Asian) adds to the oppositions of class, an opposition which leads the story to an indecipherable epilogue. From a small feminist device, Never Forever turns into a cry of political revolt. The softness does not exclude a frigid lucidity and gentle desperation.
—Translated from French, Jean-François Rauger (October 24, 2007)