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The Odd Couple 

A middle-aged woman hooks up with a younger man in Moscow, Belgium

Matty and Johnny first meet after she backs her car into his truck in a supermarket parking lot. He calls her a "crazy bitch"; she guesses his ginormous truck compensates for his small penis. So begins the unlikely relationship between the 41-year-old Matty (Barbara Sarafian) and the 29-year-old Johnny (Jurgen Delnaet) in Moscow, Belgium.

Matty is a typically harried mom, with little time to herself. She can't even soak in the bathtub in peace. Making matters worse, her art-teacher husband left her for one of his young students for a trial separation. She greets everyone with a look of exasperation and tells a coworker, "My husband is having a midlife crisis, my oldest daughter is an adolescent, my youngest daughter thinks she's an adolescent and my son wishes he was."

At first, Matty wants nothing to do with recovering alcoholic Johnny, who shows up at her door, offering to fix her damaged trunk. She eventually gives in and invites him to stay for dinner. They're an odd couple from the start — tentative and combative. She wants nothing to do with men and thinks he's pursuing her for sex; he's smitten but clearly stung by his previous marriage (he caught his wife in bed with another man).

This Belgian romantic comedy is way smarter than most U.S.-made rom-coms. Moscow, Belgium takes time to build Matty and Johnny's relationship. They spar throughout the film, even though they have sex in his truck beneath an underpass after their first date. The movie also isn't afraid to give its male lead a violent past.

There's a funny and tense scene in which the working-class Johnny, Matty, her smug husband, their kids and her daughter's date (who's meeting the family for the first time) sit down for a not-so-quiet dinner. It's a telling moment, with Matty appropriately stuck between two men and an uncertain future.

mgallucci@clevescene.com

More by Michael Gallucci

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