A middle-aged fling threatens to emerge from gossamer ingredients in “When the Tide Comes In … ” Deceptively simple look at an actress and an unlikely fan wrangles an appealing mood from the building blocks of provincial towns, one-star hotels, latenight beers and the poetic nighttime gleam of an oil refinery. Modest but spot-on co-helming debut by actress Yolande Moreau (the concierge in “Amelie”) and Gilles Porte is beguiling in the slightly surreal vein of the best of contempo Belgian cinema but without the typical nasty streak.
Irene (Moreau) drives around Belgium and France performing her one-woman show “Sex and Crime” in cultural centers and retirement homes. Dries (Wim Willaert), part of a crew of guys who hoist a giant parade float on their shoulders, becomes enamored of both show and star, with surprising results. Leisurely and melancholy pic could have been dreary, but instead feels funny and airy. Cameos by Belgian thesps, from Olivier Gourmet as a cop to Severine Caneele (“Humanity”) as a chambermaid, are sweet.