The Brand New Testament
Directed by Jaco Van Dormael
God lives in Brussels. On earth though, God is a coward, with pathetical morals and being odious with his family. His daughter, Ea, is bored at home and can't stand being locked up in a small apartment in ordinary Brussels, until the day she decides to revolt against her dad...
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★★★★ review by Sebastian Klein on Letterboxd
A heartwarming movie. A creative story about God's daughter, who escapes the clutches of a mad misanthrope, goes out and creates a new testament. Great actors, well staged, a movie that left me satisfied.
The French and Belgian film industry shows that you can make great and challenging films apart from superheroes and eternal sequels. This could Hollywood take an example.
★★★★★ review by loureviews on Letterboxd
A really enjoyable, quirky, playful, and black film which takes as its starting point that God lives in Brussels and is basically a troll who enjoys causing havoc with mankind.
When his daughter decides to take revenge and send everyone a text message letting them know how long they have to live, she unleashes a world of dark introspective and disturbing comedy which also has a lot to say about moral philosophy and the meaning of life.
This reminded me a lot of films like 'The City of Lost Children' as well as 'Being John Malkovich', and the best work of Terry Gilliam, and watching it at Easter, I also thought it had profound questions to ask about the reality of religious observation (the wisecracking 'JC' is exactly as I imagine him to be), and the opening scenes where animals act as humans do is inspired.
Beautifully scored and shot as well, with gorgeous colours and shadows, and some absolutely lovely sequences (Aurelie watching the ballet display at her table, for one; the skies erupting; the glowing, singing fish; or simply the quiet tears of one who realises exactly when their time is up).
This gets the full five stars from me. It made me laugh, it disturbed me, and it moved me.
★★★★ review by Jonathan Van Hemelrijck on Letterboxd
Gezien op mijn zoveelste date night met Jaan. Ik had eerst een documentaire op gezet over The Revenant. Best wel gezellig. Daarna was het nog te vroeg om te gaan slapen. Het was aan Jaan om een filmpje te kiezen. Da hebben we maar naar deze topper gekeken. Got to love the Jaco. Got to love Brussels. Wel leuk dat we ook samen in Brussel waren toen we het keken.
Nu gaan we samen slapen. Morgen vroeg filmen. Veel succes vriendjes.
★★★★★ review by Andrew Crosby on Letterboxd
The Brand New Testament is a beautifully weird foreign film about life and all different corners of it. Following the events that transpire after God's daughter Ea releases everyone on Earth's death dates against her father's wishes, the adventure brings us along for her quest to find a set of desciples and learn about the human experience. It's a wickedly funny, original, and inspiring movie.
I didn't really think much about it while I was watching but it appears that some consider this movie to be blasphemous towards God and the Christian religion. While yes, it definitely portrays God as a malicious old man as well as the film's antagonist, at the same time it never felt blasphemous per say to me as it's a new spin on ideas that have been passed down for ages used in order to create a movie that's full of ideas that are creative, interesting, and hilarious. It never felt played specifically to offend or shake up anybody, plus I interpreted God and his little family in the movie as different extensions of the God I believe in, meaning the movie isn't teaching that the real God if he's out there is all bad in the slightest. It almost felt like the mean old man persona was a visualization of the Old Testament minded God while his children and wife portrayed The New Testament side of him. Because of how wholesome and accepting his daughter Ea was especially, I feel like it wasn't offensive at all or intended to be. Maybe I'm wrong about the director's intent, but nothing stood out to me as a complete denouncement of either God or religion as a whole.
Back to the quality of the filmmaking itself, there are a couple flaws I have but the surrounding movie is so utterly perfect and entirely endearing that I can't dock it even half a star rating. It's instantly become one of my favorite movies of all time. Sure, the visual effects aren't always so hot and a certain disciple's story couldn't connect to me in anyway emotionally (hence it felt distracting from the otherwise fully engaging plot, characters, and messages). As far as flaws go though, that's really it. Not one of these problems was able to effect my enjoyment of the experience that drastically.
Seeing as the plot follows Ea on her journey to meet a group of randomly chosen disciples, The Brand New Testament turns into a comedic and deeply personal set of character studies. Each one of them (besides the one I mentioned taking up problems with earlier) is incredibly well written and performed, and they all teach a powerful lesson as well. The hilarious comedic elements always eventually turn back to deliver a heartfelt message on living your life to the fullest too, and it transitions between these concepts flawlessly. There is always both deep darker emotion and light hearted spectacle to bask in.
In short, The Brand New Testament is delightful in every sense of the word. I don't want to spoil anything but I will say it's an unconventional film full of original ideas, over the top humor, as well as its fair share of both heartbreaking and heartwarming character studies. Honestly I probably couldn't recommend this horizon broadening experience more!
★★★★ review by Billy Langsworthy on Letterboxd
Incredibly entertaining, wildly inventive, a little bit mad and moving to boot; The Brand New Testament is one of 2016's most original visions.
See it for God's sake
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