An ugly duckling emerges from the canals of Amsterdam to become a beautiful member of the Jewish community in “Moos.”
The fact that actress Jip Smit isn’t ugly at all is at least part of the point. As Moos, whose independent life basically ended when her mother died and she took on the responsibility of caring for her father, Smit portrays a young woman who has a lot going for her but lacks the self-knowledge to make herself or anyone around her notice.
One of the first scenes in director Job Gosschalk’s sweet story establishes Moos’ nonexistence. She and her father attend a big family seder, and the head of the family explains the reasons he’s thankful for each of the people there. Except one.
“And Moos,” Moos says quietly, making sure she’s included in the blessings.
Her quest to find her place and not be just the plus-one to her father or anyone else begins with a tryout to attend a performing arts college, where her voice performance involves singing an Israeli song none of the Dutch instructors can understand.
She doesn’t pass the evaluation, but the attempt exposes her to a new world and new possibilities. Moos is such a likable person, thanks to Smit’s spot-on portrayal, that you celebrate each success and suffer each setback she experiences.
Don’t see “Moos” expecting a lot of surprises, including the development of her love life. But unless your heart is even more shriveled than that of a grizzled newspaper editor, you’ll walk out of the theater with a smile and an appreciation for a simple story well told.