The Brand New Testament (15) |Close-Up Film Review

Brand New Testament © Kris Dewitte -credit-0-2000-0-1125-crop

Dir. Jaco Van Dormael, Belguim/France/Luxembourg, 2015, 113 mins, in French with subtitles

Cast: Benoît Poelvoorde, Yolande Moreau, Pili Groyne, Catherine Deneuve, François Damiens, Didier De Neck, Laura Verlinden, Serge Lariviere, Marco Lorenzini, Romain Gelin

This comedy fantasy has a most unusual premise: God is not the benign figure that most people believe in but a pretty disreputable character. In this movie God (Benoit Poelvoorde) doesn’t deliver good miracles but brings disasters to the humans on earth. He bullies his daughter Ea (Pili Groyne) and orders around his very tolerant wife (Yolande Moreau).

The story is really Ea’s tale. She is a bright 10-year-old who disapproves of her father’s behaviour. It’s bad enough that he always wears his old dressing gown and grey tee shirt, but when he hits her with his belt, she has had enough. She consults her brother Jesus – a tiny statue that comes to life and speaks to her – and leaves home. Before departing Ea hacks into her father’s computer and sends a text message to everyone in the world telling them the exact date of their death. She then crashes the computer so that God can’t use it and she goes out into the world for the first time via the back of the washing machine.

Having decided she wants 6 extra apostles to add to to the original 12, Ea first finds a homeless man (Marco Lorenzini) and then recruits the rest including a posh Catherine Deneuve, who finding she has five years left before her death sets out to find joy away from her dull husband. When God follows his wife through the portal, he is mistaken for an illegal immigrant.

The film is well directed with lots of fun including Deneuve’s romance with a large gorilla she has bought. The little girl is excellent and Pelvoorde makes his smoking, drinking, evil-minded God almost believable. His design of inflictions is also intelligent – bread always falls on the jam side, the phone rings as you get in the bath and so on. This film has a clever concept which is executed with finesse and well worth a visit.

Review by Carlie Newman