Romantic comedy plays to Hollywood formula, albeit in a foreign setting.
Courtesy of NeoClassic Films/Platform Media Group
"Moscow, Belgium" is a coy title for a coy little film which actually takes place on the outskirts of a working-class neighborhood of Ghent, Belgium, named Moscou. The Russia reference is a grabber but meaningless. Maybe someday this film will be paired on a double bill with Wim Wenders's "Paris, Texas."
First-time Flemish director Christophe Van Rompaey has already absorbed a multitude of bad habits from Hollywood. His film is ostensibly about the anguish of the lovelorn, but he consistently cutesies up the proceedings. Matty (Barbara Sarafian) works in a humdrum job at the post office and has three oddball children, a sexually precocious teenager, Vera (Anemone Valcke); her younger sister, Fien (Sofia Ferri); and Peter (Julian Borsani), who looks like a poster boy for Geeks Anonymous. Matty's art teacher husband Werner (Johan Heldenbergh) has been AWOL since he took up with a nubile young student, leaving Matty to pine and fume.
She and stringy-haired loudmouth Johnny (Jurgen Delnaet) meet cute, in purest Hollywood style, when he backs his truck into her car in a supermarket parking lot. They holler at each other – a sure sign that love is waiting in the wings. Although Matty seems genuinely turned off to him at first, he wears her down by showing up at her place with apologies and an offer to fix her car.
A decade younger than the 40-ish Matty, Johnny comes across as a superannuated teenager. He's irrepressible in a way that is supposed to be irresistible but which I found annoying. When a jealous Werner does some digging into Johnny's past, he discovers the guy was a heavy drinker who was once jailed for beating up a girlfriend.