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  • Flemish like their romantic comedy with a blemish

    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

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

    From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress