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DVD Review: Moscow, Belgium

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By Edward Yerke-Robins

Working mother Matty faces each day with a bleary-eyed scowl and grievance list a mile long. Her children? Completely withdrawn, when they can be bothered to come home. Her housework? Piling higher and higher with no end or help in sight. Her post office job? Literally walling her off from the outside world. Her only friend? A repeat customer who chats her up between shipments of funeral invitations. Her husband Werner? Living across town with an art student young enough to be his daughter. To top it off, her car is rear-ended by a long-haul truck in the grocery parking lot. The truck's driver, Johnny, escapes with a serious tongue-lashing, only to show up at her apartment to repair vehicles and relations. Has Matty finally found a bright spot in her life, or is this budding romance just another trial to join her list?

Moscow, Belgium is no Cinderella fairytale. The Belgian film is a sweet tale of everyday people struggling to define love and happiness amidst the daily grind. Lead actors Barbara Sarafian (Matty) and Jurgen Delnaet (Johnny), virtual unknowns outside of Belgium (and, given such short IMDb listings, possibly even inside), resonate charm. It's refreshing to see characters who look, act and feel like real people, particularly in a romantic comedy. There's none of the disaffection of a Hollywood star vehicle, where an overreliance on glitzy personalities removes the heart and soul of the story.