(director/writer: Bas Devos; cinematographer: Grimm Vandekerckhove; editor: Dieter Diependaele; music: Brecht Ameel; cast: Stefan Gota (Stefan), Liyo Gong (Shuxiu), ShuHan Wang (ShuHan), Alina Constantin (Anca, Stefan’s nurse sister), Teodor Corbin (Mihai, garage owner), Cedric Luvuezo (Cedric, hotel worker); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Marc Goyens; Cinema Guild; 2023-Belgium-in French, Romanian, Mandarin, Dutch, with English subtitles)

“A heartfelt gem.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Flemish filmmaker Bas Devos (“Ghost Tropic”/”Hellhole”) directs and writes a quiet and elegant film about love and fate, that’s a heartfelt gem.

The 30-something Stefan (Stefan Gota) is an insomniac Romanian construction worker living and working in Belgium’s capital of Brussels and Shuxiu (Liyo Gong) is a Belgian-Chinese doctoral student, a 20-something bryologist, who collects and categorizes specimens for her study of moss. She also works part-time in her aunt’s (ShuHan Wang) Chinese takeout noodle restaurant.

Stefan plans to return home for the summer, and as a parting gift gives his fellow immigrant construction workers and his older sister Anca (Alina Constantin), a nurse, a homemade borscht soup. He meets Shuxiu when he comes out of the rain and dines at her aunt’s restaurant, The Long March, and they have a conversation over her studies, and in the process make a humanistic connection that could lead to a possible romantic relationship.

Moss is a rootless organism readily adaptable to the environment, and here becomes a metaphor for the two solitary strangers to make an intimate connection. They are also nourished devouring Stefan’s bowl of borscht.

The mesmerizing and spiritually uplifting film was shot on 16mm. 

It played at the New York Film Festival.