“He's a romantic atheist, she's a religious realist.” How’s that for an incentive-filled tagline? Working from a play by Johan Heldenbergh and Mieke Dobbels, the last thing Belgian director Felix Van Groeningen and writing partner Carl Joos wanted was to transform the story of a bluegrass singer (Johan Heldenbergh) and his excessively-inked cowgirl wife (Veerle Baetens) dealing with the loss of their child into a disease-of-the-week sudser. On the surface, it presents everything I’ve come to detest in movies — issues of childhood mortality, the subsequent grieving process, a dead animal motif, and a lengthy third act sermon, this one on the virtues of stem cell research. But when wrapped in song, sans the pretty pink bow of sentimentality, the result is a compelling, intensely moving musical melodrama that will leave you feeling encouraged, not bereaved. With Nell Cattrysse and George W. Bush as himself. (2012) — Scott Marks
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