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Sundance: “Never Forever.”

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"I want the people I love to stop hurting."
We’re not entirely sold on Vera Farmiga. She does look remarkable, like some sad-eyed Slavic Madonna, but watching her on screen, we’re ever conscious of how hard she’s acting — it often leaves us at a remove. "Never Forever," the second feature from director Gina Kim, rests entirely on Farmiga’s charms, which may explain our ambivalence to the film. A Korea-US co-production, "Never Forever" is a melodrama with more in common with Korean mainstream cinema than American arthouse fare. Farmiga stars as Sophie Lee, a Caucasian woman trying to be the perfect Korean-American wife to her husband, Andrew (David McInnis). Demure, loving and in every way accommodating, she’s even adopted the strict Christianity practiced by Andrew’s family…but she’s yet to conceive a child, a fact that’s caused Andrew to fall into depression. Out of desperation, she strikes up a bargain with a stranger she spies at the fertility clinic, Jihah (Ha Jung-woo), a Korean man who turns out to be an illegal immigrant barely managing to scrape together a living. (He does live in an awfully cute little Chinatown studio, though.) She pays him for sex; if she conceives, she gives him $30,000 and never sees him again. Unless, of course, they fall in love — but they would never do that, would they?

Of course they would.

The film is problematic less because of the soapy aspects of the story (though Andrew’s reaction when he inevitably discovers the affair is right out of a bodice-ripper) and more because the character of Sophie is a construct that never comes together. Dressed in ridiculous ruffled and beribboned outfits, her blond hair curled in ringlets, she looks like a china doll, but all of the anvil-subtle signifiers in the world don’t explain how her character ended up helplessly submerging herself in an impossible role. For a film that goes into scarcely tread territory in terms of race, "Never Forever" remains broad in its readings — Sophie is a trophy, a blond-haired, blue-eyed piece of the American Dream, but whose American Dream, exactly? If Andrew is such a good Korean son, such a pillar of the community, then how’d he end up marrying a white chick? And who the hell is Sophie supposed to be, behind that blank, wide-eyed gaze? Without any apparent interpersonal relationships of her own, having previously lived only to please her husband, she’s a figure out of a Douglas Sirk film, albeit one with occasional subtitles and more sex.

+ "Never Forever" (Sundance)

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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