Monday, August 1, 2016

The Brand New Testament (orig. Le tout nouveau testament) [2015]

MPAA (UR would be R)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing listing* (A. Champilou) review* (A. Schwartz) review* (E. Martín Luna) review* (V. Staňková) review* (L. Shaw) review

The Brand New Testament (orig. Le tout nouveau testament) [2015] [IMdb] []*(directed and cowritten by Jaco Van Dormael [IMdb] []* along with Thomas Gunzig [IMdb] []*), while certainly _not_ "for everybody" is a quite imaginative BELGIAN, FRENCH and LUXEMBOURGER religious themed comedy that helped open the 2016 Chicago French Film Festival organized annually by the French Diplomatic Mission to the United States and held since its beginning at the Music Box Theater on Chicago's North Side.  The film also earned a 2016 U.S. Golden Globes nomination for Best Foreign Language Motion Picture.

Basically, the film takes as its starting point the verses in the first chapter of Genesis: "Then let us make human beings in our likeness ... God created man in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them" [Gen 1:26-27] and then continues to imagine that God _and his family_  live "up in the sky" _as a typical Belgian family_ in a random apartment in one of the upper floors of a nondescript (and not particularly attractive) 20+ story tenement building somewhere at the outskirts of Brussels.

"God and his Family...", what pray-tell do you mean?   Oh yes, there's a family. There's the Father (played by Benoît Poelvoorde [IMDb] []*) a typical, and starting to bald, Belgian male in his perhaps early 50s.  He has a Wife (played by Yolande Moreau [IMDb] []*) who we "down on earth" _don't really know_ as she's "up there" in the Family of God's random tenement apartment mostly "tending/cleaning house" ;-).   Of course, there's The Son, J.C., (we _know Jesus_, played here quite sympathetically by David Murgia [IMDb]).  And finally there's God's 12-year old Daughter named Ea (played by Pili Groyne [IMDb] []*) who we, again, _don't really know_ 'cause as a typical Belgian family "all the attention's been given to the Son" ;-).   Ea's the one telling this story ... ;-)

We're told that God the Father created the world that we know over the course of seven evenings, when, "each night, after dinner" (cooked of course by Ma') "would tinker with such things" (as "Creating the World") on his computer, with a few (Belgian) beers at his side.  The "beers at his side" actually kinda help explain the creation of animals like Ostriches, Giraffes and Hippopotamuses which aesthetically do seem to make more sense "after a beer or two" ;-). 

But God the Father's drinking and general "Belgian style crankiness" helps explain a lot of the problems in the world, and so, "eyes rolling" almost-teenage Ea decides finally to "go down to earth" and fix some of the messes that Dad "drinking beers at his computer" seems to be causing. 

Here nice, smiling if somewhat clueless brother J.C. has some advice for Ea: "You know, when you go down to Earth, don't go as I did to recruit twelve Apostles.  I thought twelve would be a good number.  But most of them didn't really do much anyway.  You could probably get by with six. ;-) ... Then, when you ask them to write your Gospels, don't have them focus much on you or us.  Focusing on us is kinda pointless, they won't listen / learn from our example anyway.  Have them focus on their own stories and find what they need to do to get by."  

So Ea finds her way down to earth, finds her six, quite random (and often quite problematic) Apostles certainly with their own "demons" / "stories" and the rest of the story ensues ...

Again Dear Readers from the description above, it should be pretty clear that this film would _not_ be "for everybody."  But it _does_ have its moments.  I did find it amusing that God would have created "Giraffes" over a couple of beers ;-) or that Jesus would be telling "his sister" to not bother with looking for 12 Apostles as "most of them didn't do much anyway" ;-) that she could "get by with six" ;-)  

So ... while not necessarily a "must see," the film would certainly "amuse a few" ;-).  I got a kick out of it, but then, of course, I'm _not_ taking it "as Gospel."  I just liked some of the little jokes / "insights" ;-).   

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