Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

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.

[email protected]

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

More by Michael Gallucci

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 5, 2022

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Casablanca 80th Anniversary Presented By TCM (Film)

    • Sun., Jan. 23 and Wed., Jan. 26
  • 19th Annual Standing Rock International Shorts Festival @ The Kent Stage

    • Sat., March 5
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show @ Cedar Lee Theatre

    • First Saturday of every month

© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation