Moscow Belgium Christophe Van Rompaey

Moscow Belgium Christophe Van Rompaey
Initially, Moscow Belgium seems like a potentially anarchic romantic comedy turned realist parable, with its weathered, but not entirely defeated, protagonist and seemingly unorthodox trajectory. Unfortunately, it eventually makes use of every formulaic contrivance in the book, feeling more like a crappy Katherine Heigl vehicle, with some full-frontal nudity and choice expletives, than anything particularly refreshing or subversive. This isn't to completely dismiss the film, as the lead romantic interest — a recently divorced mother of three played by Barbara Sarafian — delivers a fantastic, nuanced, subtle performance. But her portrayal of a woman afraid to let a younger man (Jurgen Delnaet) into her heart just isn't enough. Things start out well enough, with Matty (Sarafian) getting in a fender-bender with Johnny (Delnaet) at the supermarket, only to throw out a barrage of insults and profanity at each other. But when Matty says, "Everything around you is a blind spot," we know we're in for a bout of "Obvious Allegory 101." Matty's dread of difference is exacerbated by her daughter's Sapphic affections and her new truck-driving boyfriend is overtly juxtaposed with her art teaching, "academic" ex-husband (Johan Heldenberg) in an unlikely dinner table blow-out. Even early mentions of Johnny's prior issues with alcoholism come full circle to the cunning tune of beer glass close-ups and implausible happenstances. We get the impression that things might turn awry, as the overall message of "follow your heart" is sketchy at best, but after a few too many formula twists we realize this Belgian romance isn't going anywhere new. Washed-out cinematography and capable supporting actors keep Moscow Belgium engaging, in a generic television sort of way, which is probably more than can be said for most Kate Hudson flicks. Those questing for a more sincere look at relationship woes might want to rent Two Lovers or check out (500) Days of Summer instead. No supplements are included with the DVD and viewers may want to switch the default French dub to the original Flemish track on the options screen before watching. (Mongrel Media)