Film Review: "The Brand New Testament"

Film Review: "The Brand New Testament"
Official Submission of Belgium to the 88th Academy Awards
European Film Promotion Screening Series
Los Angeles, November 2015

How would you react if someone proposes that God not only exists but he actually lives in Belgium? 

That's the provocative proposition of Jaco Van Dormael in his latest film "The Brand New Testament", which tells the story of an unhappy young girl whose only escape is by envisioning a world where her father is the God who controls the world and his creations through a desktop computer inside a cavernous room in their downtown apartment. Her mother is the Goddess who loves to embroider all day, watch baseball and collect baseball cards. Her older brother is the dead JC (that's short for Jesus Christ, duh!) 

The story kicks off one day after another bad fight with her abusive dad. She decides to revolt by hacking into his computer and leaking to the world each person's death of date, prompting a comical countdown on each person's cell phone. She ventures the world and seeks out 6 new apostles to add the to the 12 to complete the 18 apostles her mother had always wanted to have. And the reason to add 6 more is so silly it will make you laugh so bad. 

This is an irreverent and fantastical film that on the surface may look like a harsh criticism of the christian faith but is actually a farcical, escapist comedy that's full of wit, sarcasm and deadpan humor. It's a compendium of stories about people who, like the girl, are in various states of loneliness and the only escape it seems is welcoming their impending deaths. The film is not about just believing in a God or a creator but in believing that, if we really want to, we can take full control of our lives and have a meaningful, bright, colorful day everyday.

The film offers wonderful performances from the cast composed of Pili Groyne, Benoit Poelvoorde, Yolande Moreau, Francois Damiens and the great Catherine Deneuve, who appears, as you'll see in the accompanying photo to this review, hilariously makes out with a gargantuan gorilla in the film.

Rating: 4 Stars

Raymond Lo

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