|Directed by||Jaco Van Dormael|
|Written by||Thomas Gunzig & Jaco Van Dormael|
|Stars||Pili Groyne, Benoît Poelvoorde, Catherine Deneuve, Yolande Moreau, Marco Lorenzini et al|
|Released||15th April 2016|
|Language||French with English subtitles|
What if God exists and is living in a flat in Brussels? And what if He isn’t the benevolent supreme being that is taught in religion but rather an unlikeable bastard who lives with His wife and daughter, spending most of His time either watching sport or creating rules that are inflicted on the human race in order to annoy? This is the scenario that you are presented with in this dark comedy and, while most people will have heard of His son (who is known as JC in the film and lives on as a living ornament in the flat), the wife and daughter are new.
The God in this film is an overbearing character, to the point that His wife rarely speaks, and it is not unknown for His daughter, Éa, to receive the belt for perceived misdeeds. It is after one such punishment that Éa decides to take her revenge and go out into the real world, taking on six apostles that she tries to help with various aspects of their lives. It is the form that the revenge takes which makes this film really interesting as Éa breaks into her father’s study and texts everybody in the world with their actual date and time of death.
This one act poses an interesting question: how would you react if you knew you had 62 years left before you die? Or a week? How about 20 seconds? Whichever way you look at it, it is an interesting question and I doubt anyone would carry on exactly as they did before, and it is most certainly true of the apostles that are chosen. Each of the six have faulty or completely broken lives and Éa helps them to fix the main things holding them back and allow them to live their lives better.
The darker thoughts and concepts in this film are lightened considerably by the humour deployed throughout the movie. The laughs start quickly with an interesting take on Genesis that should not be missed, and the opening scenes are also used to explain away a lot of life’s little annoyances, such as the phone always ringing when you get into the bath, as being examples of the many rules or laws put in place by God. Out in the real world, there are a good number of funny set pieces throughout the film where you see the same person taking on increasingly dangerous stunts, now fully aware that he has many years left in his life.
Ultimately, The Brand New Testament could have been very dark indeed with the possibility of death always just around the corner, however, the themes of love and redemption that run through this film are strong and, along with the mix of humour, actually make it an uplifting experience. If it is showing in a cinema near you I would highly recommend a trip out to see it and it is worth the effort required with the subtitles if you are not fluent in French.