The Brand New Testament (Le tout nouveau testament) (2016)
Critic Consensus: The Brand New Testament takes a surreal, subversive, and funny look at Biblical themes through a modern -- and refreshingly original -- lens.
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as God's wife
as Jesus Christ
as Le mari de Martine
as Xenia, l'Allemande
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Critic Reviews for The Brand New Testament (Le tout nouveau testament)
An irreverent but otherwise harmless ontological satire that puts a cartoonish spin on the Christian origin story.
A lighthearted/darkhearted romp through modern misery, frontloaded with imagination and light on the finish.
It's a freewheeling, live-action satire that could well have been animated, a quality (among others) that it shares with Terry Gilliam's features.
Morbid comedy? Meditation on happiness? Theological allegory wrapped inside a silly joke? Maybe a little of all three.
Audience Reviews for The Brand New Testament (Le tout nouveau testament)
Although not exactly a household name, I've been a huge fan of Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael for some time. Unfortunately, he has only made a handful of films, though, and there is often long periods inbetween. That said, when one arrives it's always worth the wait and you are guaranteed something a little a different and often very imaginative and inventive. His latest in The Brand New Testament, once again, delivers on that expectation. Plot: God is alive and well and lives in present-day Belgium as he meddles in the personal affairs of his human subjects. He's not very good at his job, though, so his young, opinionated daughter decides to take over and create a better, more positive, world. She descends to earth in search of 6 messengers to write a Brand New Testament with God in hot persuit to thwart her ambitions. Before venturing into the world of filmmaking, Jaco Van Dormael actually persued a career as a circus clown and rejoiced in working with children. It's this very playfulness and joi d'vuevre that's channeled in his approach to telling a story and The Brand New Testament is another wonderful film that's filled to the brim with such creativity and flair that it's hard to fully capture or explain how joyful it is. The best way to draw comparison would be to mention it in the same capacity as Jean Pierre Juenet's delightful French film, Amelie. There are many similarities in terms of its structure, it's humour and the way it introduces its colourful cast of characters. As Amelie is one of my all-time favourite films, it will be no surprise to hear that I absolutely adored Van Dormael's film too. The rewriting of the New Testament is such a genius concept and Van Dormael's execution of it is genuinely hilarious with beautifully judged surreal moments: to begin with, God is depicted as a malevolent piece of shit, who is abusive to his wife and children and prefers to create new laws and hardships for people so he can revel in their suffering. Of course, God had a son in Jesus but he's only ever referenced as "J.C." and is nowhere to be found after having failed at assembling his apostles. Turns out J.C. wasn't an only child, though. God also has a 10 year old daughter, Ea, who decides to assemble her own apostles and rewrite a Brand New Testament. To do so, she first hacks into God's computer and reveals to every individual on Earth when they can (exactly) expect to die. This causes havoc amongst society and people begin to approach their lives in vastly different ways - with one even attempting suicide on many occasions only for him to, knowingly, (and repeatedly) escape the clutches of death as his preordained expiration date has yet to come. We also have Catherine Denueve's lonely housewife who is so starved of any meaningful connection in her life, that she falls in love with a gorilla and enters into a relationship with it - leading to the films most hilarious scene when her husband walks in on them post coitus. There's also a sexual deviant who finds that he has a talented voice that will make him money to which he chooses to dub over porno films. Even the way that God has to travel to earth, he has to do so via a washing machine drum that exits into a laundrette where he is met by a petrified woman who pepper sprays him in the face. There really is no end to the entertainment value and the wealth of ideas this film has. As mentioned earlier, it's difficult to fully explain what Van Dormael manages to capture here but it's certainly worthy of far more attention than it's received. Those of a religious persuasion may deem this to be sacrilegious but I, on the hand, thought it an intelligent, metaphysical satire that plays havoc with centuries of religious/Christian beliefs and principles - while also taking a mischievous stab at patriarchy and how different the world would be with female empowerment. There's a plethora of excellent scenes and hilarious characters throughout Van Dormael's riotously enjoyable black comedy and he delivers it with such playfulness that it's hard not to be swept along with its creative enthusiasm. Mark Walker
Thoroughly enjoyed this lighthearted romp through Christian myth as the forgotten daughter of God gets fed up with Papa's controlling ways and decides a little rebellion is in order. No great messages or sermons here, only a smile for you on your way. Also, a welcome surprise visit by Lady Catherine Denueve!
I hate Poelvoorde and it is a torture to endure him in this complete failure that doesn't work as a comedy (it is simply not funny) nor as the clever, insightful parable that it (wrongly) believes to be, being instead dull, empty and pointless, while suffering from serious tonal problems.
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