The Brand New Testament we need
The Brand New Testament by Jaco Van Dormael is the story of Ea (Pili Groyne), the ten-year-old daughter of God. She lives with her family, locked away from humanity, and God (Benoît Poelvoorde) is not a good father to her.
The Brand New Testament by Jaco Van Dormael is the story of Ea (Pili Groyne), the ten-year-old daughter of God. She lives with her family, locked away from humanity, and God (Benoît Poelvoorde) is not a good father to her. This is why she decides to sabotage her father’s power by sending humanity their death dates and then runs away from home, just as her older brother J. C. did (yes, THE J. C.). Once outside, she must find herself six Apostles, with the help of a dyslexic homeless man (Marco Lorenzini), who will write her Brand New Testament.
Therefore the structure of the film follows the structure of the Bible, in an unconventional trip down the roads of Bruxelles.
Among many, many things, that struck me, there is the predominant role of music. The director exploits auditory and visual techniques to describe spoken metaphors, and the soundtrack is outstanding, holding a narrative role. As Ea meets her Apostles, we can listen to their inner music. Each one tells us something about them, about their personality, and it is something that cannot be expressed with words or images.
Every character is as unique as the director’s style when introducing them and their past: the photography is different, together with the shooting techniques. Each time we step in a different world.
One of them really needs some discussing: God. It is clearly an Old Testament God, possessed by wrath and by a thirst for power. However, do not think for a second that such a portrayal is sacrilegious, this God embodies the very God we blame for everything that goes wrong. And, as matter of fact, here he’s the sadist writing such laws as “When you immerse a body into a bath, the phone rings”.
Such humor is able to reach even the dark side of life: death, the very idea of it, men’s fear of it and their ignorance of its date; it is made fun of with a seraphic eye. However, dark humor doesn’t prevent the film from reaching deep moments of pathos. For example, the scene of Aurélie’s dancing hand or Jean-Claude “directing” a flock of birds are just unforgettable, visual masterpieces, which will make a cult out of this film.
Director: Jaco Van Dormael
Writers: Thomas Gunzig, Jaco Van Dormael
Cast: Pili Groyne, Benoît Poelvoorde, Yolande Moreau, Marco Lorenzini, Laura Verlinden, Catherine Deneuve, François Damiens, Serge Larivière, Didier De Neck, Romain Gelin