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Never Forever

Sophie seems to have an idyllic life; she’s the perfect Caucasian housewife for Andrew, her successful Asian American husband. Their relationship is put to the test, though, when she can’t conceive a child. To save her marriage, Sophie does something desperate.

She initiates a bold and clandestine venture with Jihah, an illegal immigrant from Korea. Sophie soon finds this new arrangement spiralling into a situation that may actually destroy what it was meant to liberate. In Never Forever, writer/director Gina Kim arranges every shot with a calculating eye, building a step-by-step urgency. Her story is rich and her filmmaking lean and precise.
Kim creates the perfect tone, right down to a climate of extreme repression where the sexual energy is nearly combustible. The insightful art direction and costume design are marvelously refined for an independent film. And Vera Farmiga’s incredible performance as Sophie is a true gift. Her ethereal beauty - crystal blue eyes and porcelain skin - gives her the appearance of a rare doll, which isn’t too far from the pampered existence she represents. As the perfect counterpart to two gifted leading men, her mastery of Sophie’s gradual transformation makes Never Forever an unforgettable cinematic experience.

****

The Accidental Husband

This is a romantic comedy starring Uma Thurman and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. It also stars Colin Firth, Isabella Rossellini and Sam Shepard, directed by Griffin Dunne. The film is written by Mimi Hare and Clare Naylor and Bonnie Sikowitz.

New York firefighter Patrick Sullivan had no idea his seemingly idyllic life was about to go up in smoke – especially as the unwitting, second-hand recipient of advice from famed love expert and radio host Dr. Emma Lloyd. One day he is a happy go-lucky guy looking forward to a life with his soon-to-be-bride. The next thing you know, his fiancée Sophia (Justina Machado) is seeking couples counselling on the radio from Dr. Lloyd.

The no-nonsense, ever practical Dr. Lloyd questions Sophia’s concept of romantic love and advises her to break their engagement, which she swiftly does. But when Patrick and his computer-savvy neighbour decide to give Dr. Lloyd a taste of her own medicine and “accidentally” join them in holy matrimony – something that doesn’t go over too well with her fiancé (played by Firth) - it isn’t long before they learn that sometimes even an expert in love needs a second opinion.

****

Wuthering Heights (1992)

Peter Kosminksy directed this faithful adaptation of the Emily Bronte classic. Ralph Fiennes has the role of Heathcliff, a wanderer adopted by the father of Cathy (Juliette Binoche), “a wild slip of a girl.”

Heathcliffe is looked down upon by his stepbrothers and becomes a servant. He is further crushed when Cathy, the love of his life, marries another man – since to marry a servant would be the ultimate in humiliation for her. Heathcliffe disappears for a number a years but then returns, revenge and hatred for Cathy’s family the only thing on his mind.

****

In the Land of Women

In the Land of Women is a surprisingly sombre yet funny coming-of-age tale from director Jonathan Kasdan, and stars Adam Brody in a role not too different from his beloved Seth Cohen on the night-time teen soap The O.C.

Brody, playing a character his own age, breezily inhabits Carter, a loveable but somewhat directionless screenwriter (if you count soft-core porn films) who is dumped by his beautiful but shallow starlet girlfriend Sofia at the start of the film.

In crisis mode, he packs up and heads to the Detroit suburb where his senile grandmother (Olympia Dukakis) lives, in an attempt to help her out and get some perspective. While desperately trying to make sense of his grandmother’s incoherent ramblings, Carter slaves away at a long-coming screenplay and creates confusing friendships with the mother (Meg Ryan) and daughter (Kristen Stewart) next door.

While the film sometimes seems to be grasping for something it can’t quite find, it is entertaining throughout, especially for fans of Brody. Thanks to some clever dialogue, quirky characters, and Brody’s oddball line delivery, In the Land of Women manages to get more than a few laughs.

That said, the film also deals with serious issues like sickness and death in a light-hearted way. Ryan and Stewart both add depth to what could be one-dimensional characters, and while Brody’s performance doesn’t feel like much of a stretch, it’s nice to see the actor moving towards some slightly more adult material.

Kasdan packs the film to the brim with indie pop songs, providing a hip soundtrack for a story that feels contemporary by refusing to fit the traditional romantic-comedy mould.

****