Flemish like their romantic comedy with a blemish

Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, FL)
July 31, 2009


Barbara Sarafian is a gutsy actress who is not afraid to make herself
look like hell.

When we first meet her in the opening frames of the Flemish
comedy-drama "Moscow, Belgium," her tired, drawn face fills the
screen. She's playing Matty, a 41-year-old single mother of three kids
who has dragged her brood out to shop at the Ghent equivalent of Sam's

Her hair is a nightmare. The frumpy sweater she wears looks like a dog
blanket or, perhaps, roofing insulation. She appears to have given up
on make-up â?? and correct posture â?? long
ago. Imagine singer Lucinda Williams after a ferocious
all-nighter. Naturally, this is the day Matty is about to meet a new

Maybe this is the romantic comedy they should've called "The Ugly

The Tallahassee Film Society presents "Moscow, Belgium" this weekend
at All Saints Cinema. Americans like their romantic comedies filled
with beautiful people and topped with candy sprinkles. The Flemish
prefer theirs with everyday folks and extra grit.

Still, there are conventions of the rom-com to follow. Matty and her
new gentleman-caller, Johnny (Jurgen Delnaet), "meet cute" in the
parking lot of the big-box store after a fender-bender. Naturally, if
you're following along at home in the rom-com rule book, they can't
stand each other on first sight.

Matty eventually decides to use Johnny, who is a long-distance
trucker, to make her estranged husband (Johan Hildenbergh)
jealous. (Ah-ha, there's another plot device that's common to the
genre.) The AWOL hubby is an art teacher who still dresses like a
member of '80s pop band Spandau Ballet and recently ran off with a
22-year-old female student. The husband is the first to notice that
Matty is not dressing like a haggard hausfrau any longer and is
getting her groove back in Ghent.

Sarafian is fearless when Matty's slow transformation makes her stop
briefly to check out her naked bo
t in her next big-budget romantic comedy.

Director Christopher van Rompaey also doesn't clang his audience over
the head with potentially cutesy business. One of Matty's young girls
is fascinated with tarot cards and offers readings to anyone who
visits their modest, high-rise apartment. Other directors would have
pounced on this small character habit and turned it into a major motif
or story-telling device. Van Rompaey wisely resists. He may be
following conventions but he's also keeping it all very real.

Additional Facts


What: The Tallahassee Film Society presents "Moscow, Belgium"; it's
not rated, runs 100 minutes and contains profanity, nudity and sexual
content; subtitled

When: 6 and 8 p.m. today, 5 and 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: All Saints Cinema, off Railroad Avenue in the Amtrak rail

Contact: Call 386-4404 or visit www.tallahasseefilms.com

http://www.tallahassee.c om/article/20090731/ENT/907310302/1005/RSS05

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress