Looking for a fun flick that isn’t on everyone’s lips yet? Look no further than The Brand New Testament. This absurdist film from Belgium starts with a blasphemous premise. God lives in an apartment in Brussels with his wife (Yolande Moreau) and 10-year-old daughter Ea (Pili Groyne) who are never allowed to leave said apartment. This Old Testament vengeful and angry God (Benoît Poelvoorde) sits around all day in his bathrobe, drinks beer, controls the world through his computer, and thinks up “devilish” ways to harm and annoy the humans he created. But his meanness goes too far for Ea, so she sneaks into his locked God cave and sends text messages to everyone on earth with their death dates. Knowing Daddy won’t be amused, she talks with JC, her statue of her brother, who tells her how to get out of the house. And so little Ea gets her first taste of humanity.
Ea has decided to find six disciples of her own to add to her brother’s twelve, and create a Brand New Testament from their gospels. But being a kid, and one that doesn’t really know the world, she enlists a homeless man to help. People on earth are thinking about their mortality, since now they know their death dates. Many are giving up jobs or the empty lives they’ve led to do what they always really wanted in their last few days, or weeks, or years. Ea has the names and addresses of her randomly chosen disciples and goes in search of them. They range from a boy who wants to live his last weeks as a girl, to a woman (Catherine Deneuve) who wants to break out of a stifling marriage and finds meaningful companionship with a gorilla.
But God is really pissed, follows Ea to Earth, and gets into his own mess since no one believes he is who he claims. There are several very funny moments with him and a priest who is there to help, saying things like, “God tells us to love your neighbor as yourself.” To which he snaps, “I never said that…The kid said a lot of stuff on the spur of the moment.”
Belgian director Jaco van Dormael (Toto the Hero, Mr Nobody) has made a darkly humorous film, but shot it in vibrant colors, feeling like Amelie meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Little Pili Groyne is wonderful as Ea, as are most of the rest of the cast. I felt like Catherine Deneuve was somewhat wasted. But all in all this is a very fun, irreverent flick. I’d recommend it to most audiences, except for literalist religious people who probably won’t get the joke.