Monday, 19 October 2015

BFI Film Festival - The Brand New Testament

A brilliant take on religion, morality and the small things in life. Directed and written by Jaco Van Dormael and boasting an amazing cast of French and Belgian actors and a focus on Brussels, a city I hope to visit again, literally is a brand new take on God, JC and how the world was created. God is real and he lives in Brussels.
 The story is mostly narrated by God's daughter, Ea. She lives with her father and oppressed bullied mother in a standard flat with no front door. From the view through their windows it seems they are in tower block in the middle of Brussels.
From the start Ea explains that God is a horrible bully who treats his creations like toys, creating manny disasters and little annoyances all from his computer in a study that has endless file drawers containing the population of Earth. The study is forbidden but after Ea calls him out on his cruelty he beats her. After asking her brother, JC for advice, a hilarious little scene where he admits that he 'just winged it' when he went out into the world. Ea decides to go out and find her own Apostles, picked at random of course. Also, she, like her brother has powers, which her father is obviously jealous of. It all starts when Ea releases everyone's death dates complete with countdowns. From here we briefly see all the Apostles and their death dates. A mixed group with various dates. Unfortunately the youngest, a boy same age as Ea, has days to live. Ea goes on a journey after finding a willing scribe, homeless man named Victor, and seeks out her chosen Apostles. Each section is delightfully called 'The Gospel According to...' Witha short intro and their reaction to knowing the death date. Each one takes it differently. Dramatic or calm the little observations are brilliant. After the Apostles gather to say goodbye to Willy who has a serious illness a miracle happens. Having left the computer is shut down mode, Ea's mother, a Goddess in her own right, unplugs the computer to vacuum the office. She restarts everyone and everything, giving everyone a second chance and taking over from her husband who went after Ea but due to him being an awful person has no place on Earth. Through a series of humorous events he ends up being deported to a random country as he has no ID. After all no would believe you were God dressed in sandals, long shorts and a dressing gown.
 Having a young girl, wise way beyond her years, makes the film run smoothly and let's people believe this could be legit, she is the daughter of God. The Apostles all accept her with few questions but this also might be due to the death dates being released they have to come to terms with their own reality and mortality. Everything that happens to Ea is all played out straight faced and matter of fact. She is kind and caring and therefore greeted as a friend. God is rude, nasty and selfish and what happens to be is believably. We are made in his image after all and we can be like this.
I'm not religious and to be honest nothing that is said in the film could be seen as blasphemies. This is an interpretive look at a Brand New Testament. There a few nods to the Bible and JC as he is fondly called, there are even some clever bits thrown in there, but ultimately I think the biggest moment is when Ea's mother steps in and makes things different, maybe for the better. Ultimately saying, a woman should be in charge. But that might be the feminist in me hoping that. 
I laughed out loud several times. It's brilliant film with emotional strength at the core showing that people can surprise you and as long as you have friends around you, you're doing ok. Just have faith. But you know what I mean when I say that.


  1. Oh wow, this is a new one on me! I nearly stopped reading as I'm not a religious person, but this actually sounds like a really good watch!
    - Allie

  2. Oh no, maybe I shouldn't have started with the religion stuff. Honestly its not about that, its a great film, really funny :)