Le tout nouveau testament (2015)
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Her last act before sabotaging her evil Dad is to text everyone with their date of death as her father, God, has fated it. This causes first a media storm, then great changes in the world and for individuals now certain of the imminence or otherwise of their mortality.
It is a wild romp as young Ea sets out with a homeless man as a scribe to find another half dozen disciples to add to her big brother's twelve, and write The Brand New Testament based on details of ordinary people's lives.
It is more whimsical and generous than blasphemous, but still, atheists will be as thrilled as believers will be enchanted, by the new apostles.
The storytelling is exquisite; Amelie-esque might be the best description of the style. Elaborately constructed frames of short bursts of gorgeous, surreal elements pepper the action to ensure that this movie is a very rare delight.
Gloriously inventive, coherent, hilarious, metaphysical, philosophical, big-hearted, and satisfying. This is 5 star entertainment for 15 and up.
Andrew Bunney, Let's Go To The Pictures, Three D Radio, Adelaide
Start Spoiler. If you are offended by someone making fun of topics like child abuse, bestiality, voyeurism and religion avoid this movie. If you think that religion is a hoot and should be ridiculed and can laugh at how bizarre life can get - you will be entertained. End Spoiler.
Some motives in this movie will make the laughter get stuck in your throat. At other times you will just laugh at how ridiculous some of the scenes are. This is where the strength of the movie lies: It takes everything as it is, makes fun of it, but is in general respectful of the life choices of its characters (the exception being where the villain of the movie is concerned). Is this a meaningful movie? Well it is a satire and in the business of poking fun, don't expect too much. The main purpose of a clown show is to entertain not to make you think overly much, the same goes for the movie. The basic message of the movie is one of tolerance and acceptance and is pretty much in plain sight throughout.
The acting is great even in the very silly moments, of which there are plenty. The music is mainly classics but suits the movie well. The settings, costumes and effects work - especially in the bits that are deliberately badly made, it adds to the humour.
So overall, just relax & try to not get offended, laugh along and you will have a good time.
On the first day, He created Brussels. Shortly after, He created a geeky-looking Adam and a voluptuous Eve (it is noticeable that whereas all the men in this film are homely sorts, many of the women are very attractive). One thing led to another, and Adam and Eve duly begat humanity. After that God retired to a flat with his wife (a goddess in her own right but now more interested in her baseball card collection) and their daughter Ea. But He is a vengeful god and after one parental beating too many Ea downloads from His computer to people's mobile telephones the exact duration of their remaining life. She then runs away (to Brussels, naturally) with the intention of creating her own Testament, for which she'll need some Apostles. The film features God's hapless efforts in Brussels to find Ea (without identity papers, He is suspected of being an illegal immigrant), as well as the various stories of Ea's Apostles (she chooses a sex addict, a beautiful yet lonely woman, a killer, a lonely man, a dissatisfied wife who finds love with a gorilla, and a young boy whose mother's over-protectiveness results in him having the least time of them all to live - just fifty days).
As God, Benoît Poelvoorde provides a masterclass of comic timing (not to mention gurning) as he gets maced by an old woman, beaten up by a priest and fails to walk on water. Young Pili Groyne, as Ea, is streets ahead of most child actresses, giving a believable performance of an unbelievable character. In fact, there's good acting throughout - even Catherine Deneuve expands her range beyond the standard 'slightly harassed' facial expression with which she coasts through many of her films.
While I didn't find this film as laugh-out-loud as many of those in the cinema did, there's no denying it is funny - and shows the Belgians as having an almost British-like sense of self-mockery. I can't give higher praise than that!
It is a comedy where you have dense characters, and no one laughs, only you. You will find connection between all little elements and actions of the movie, and that is geniously amazing!
Just go and see it!
On the other hand: the movie is very thought-provoking (and in some aspects, simply provocative, but IMHO in a good way). It brings a very fresh viewpoint on many issues, esp. domestic abuse and esp. the horrific damages that bad parenthood may cause; but there are several more serious themes (even hactivism!) - all presented in this most joyous film.
And... acting is superb, really by all (although I think Catherine Deneuve was esp. amazing). and the film makes tribute to several classic movies... e.g. to The Truman show ...
Don't miss it!!!!
The film is basically split into several segments, each one devoted to one of the six new apostles Ea finds. Finding them seems to be the story's main drive, but in the end it becomes about each of their stories. They all represent certain recognizable facets of human behavior: there's the businessman who, after discovering when he'll die, realizes he's been living a lie.
The film's filled to the brim with visual flair: when Man is created and wandering the Earth, his groin is censored. The man notices this and tries to get rid of this black bar covering his manhood, but to no avail. There's also a beautiful scene involving a severed hand dancing on a table as one of the apostles, a woman with a prosthetic arm watches (trust me, it works).
There's great comedy strewn about this film, but some of the funniest bits involve God having trouble getting used to life on Earth. After spending so long creating sadistic rules, it's hilarious to see him get a taste of his own medicine. Funnier still is when he protests, stating that he's God which everyone dismisses as the ranting of a raving lunatic. When he's being manhandled, he hilariously says threatens that he'll give his attackers psoriasis, warts or inflict them with a permanent case of premature ejaculation.
Not every skit holds up: the ones involving a guy tempting fate by falling off of great heights to see if he'll survive or a romance involving a gorilla wear out their welcome, but hey, when you've got a beautiful shot of someone literally embracing his own reflection, I can easily forgive. In the end, it's the film's ability to subtly convey its poetic undertones that separate it from the pack.
During the film, she finds six extra apostles, each of whom has some peculiarity. One is extremely beautiful but has only one arm, another one is sex obsessed since his early childhood, and one (played by Catherine Deneuve) is trading in her husband for a gorilla from the zoo. There are clearly no taboos for director Jaco Van Dormael.
His style of film making is related to that of Wes Anderson or Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Van Dormael is not concerned about reality, but creates a sort of magical world where anything is possible. He fills this world to the rim with visual gags and cinematographic pleasantries.
The problem I had with the film is that the fun and the jokes, as imaginative and creative as they are, become a bit tiresome after you realize the story behind it all is really very thin. In Wes Anderson's films, every funny element has a purpose and is part of a bigger picture. In Van Dormael's films, the point of the jokes is frequently lost. Just like in his other film 'Mr Nobody', this movie suffers from a multitude of ideas and a lack of focus. Some ideas are wonderfully poetic (being able to change the colour and pattern of the sky like a computer screen), but some are just easy slapstick (God falling into a canal because he's not able to walk on water like his daughter).
The lack of a good story becomes clear at the ending. It seems as if Van Dormael didn't know what to do after the six extra apostles have been found. The result is a bizarre scene, which is contrary to some earlier developments.
My assessment of this film is mixed: it contains some highly creative film making, which is a joy to watch, but too frequently the creativity spins out of control.
There is a lot of witty social satire. As an atheist hating religion I applaud to the bravery of the authors in their portrayal of the "evil" God, and their take on "J.C."'s role (they mean "Jesus Christ" but one of the characters, the "writer of the brand new testament", mistakenly thinks it's Jean-Claude Van Damme; btw I thought it's "J.C. Denton" from the Deus Ex computer game).
With all the "idiocracy" going on in the world in the last decade(s) I even wonder how this movie was made at all and how they could secure funding, because it obviously would fail to monetize and could cause a PR nightmare for the authors with all that harsh satire (even outright "blasphemy") they have there.
I love French (and Italian) movies, and this movie reinforces my respect of French cinema, and art/culture in general.
Btw, the last scene - when the goddess takes control of the world. This seems like a happy ending but notice how she picks the flowered background for the sky from a selection. Not creating the sky, like the previous god did, but simply selecting one of the options. This is exactly how the modern world of Instagram and other similar consumer trash works: simply selecting stuff, never creating or thinking up anything by themselves. I recall an argument with a colleague back in 2010 that Instagram would never pick up because similar photo effects could easily be done in Photophop, Gimp or other editors, and with much more variety, but he argued that the fact that you can apply professionally-looking editing to any photo with 1 click would attract a lot of people because that would make them feel competent, and he turned out to be right.
Well, that's just one of the hundreds of things I noticed in the movie. But the movie is full of other stuff, on other topics. Do yourself a favor and watch it.
The Brand New Testament's begins with the premise that God does exist and he lives in Brussels; with his docile wife, the Goddess, and rebellious daughter, Ea. God is tactless towards his wife and abusive towards his daughter. While he is not being those towards his family, he makes up laws on his computer, laws for worldly human. One example of those laws is 'Your phone will always ring when you are immersed in bathtub.' I think one gets the essence of the film now.
So, when Ea reaches a breaking point, after getting beaten by her father, she decides to leave her father's house after consultation with her brother Jesus Christ, who she affectionately calls JC (Yes you are reading it right). JC tells hers to find her own apostles and write a new testament. So, Ea leaves to find her apostles, but not before she gains access to her father's computer and sends everyone in the world, their day of death; and then she locked the computer so her father could not access it again. All this happens at the beginning of the first act.
By now, after reading this, one can comprehend the absurdity of the story of the film. But, what one cannot comprehend is how, with each scene, this film takes 'funny' and storytelling to another level. Ea's search of six apostles unravels the unique stories of six persons who are fighting a battle of their own now they know the day of their death. Each story, of each apostle, would resonate with us, beneath the veil of humor. That is the virtue of being a good satire and The Brand New Testament is excellent at it.
Van Dormael, who co-wrote the script with Thomas Gunzig, wields a deft direction. The dialogues are witty and hilarious at the same time. There are moments where one would hysterically burst into fits of laughter and there are moments where a melancholic chuckle would appear on one's face. Never for a moment does any oddity or any absurd scene, which you see in the film, would seem out of place or ludicrous. There is a poetic flow in the humor of the film.
The entire cast, plays their oddball characters superbly. Each character in this film is unique and forms pieces of the brilliant jigsaw display, that is this film; and all the actors rises to the occasion to portray theirs. Benoit Poelvoorde should be mentioned for wickedly mischievous and despicable portrayal of God. It his performance that makes us loathe his character and thus laugh out loud when he gets in trouble. Pil Groyne, who plays 10 years old Ea, was memorable too; and not to forget David Murgia's charming yet hilarious cameo as Jesus Christ.
The film is full of virtues, and among the glittering virtues, cinematography would take an essential spot. The film is beautifully shot. Christophe Beaucarne's camera-work deserves every praise there is not give. Choice of background score and music is also commendable.
The Brand New Testament is a film that will be etched in your memory while bringing a smile, whenever you think about it.
With the help of her brother (yes, THAT brother) and a somewhat unorthodox band of newly appointed disciples, she's determined to make her own mark on the universe. Needless to say, God's having none of it and tries to do everything in His - considerable - power to stop His rebellious daughter from undoing everything He's worked so hard for.
This hilarious satire is a firework of inspired ideas and just a blast from start to finish. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves intelligent, absurdist comedy in the vein of 'Life of Brian' or 'South Park' and doesn't get easily offended. 8 stars out of 10.
In case you're interested in more underrated masterpieces, here's a list with some of my favorites:
While His son (J.C) attempted to change to his cruel reign he failed. It is now the turn of God's daughter Ea to end Humanity's suffering - which she does by informing the world of the exact amount of time they have left to live and then returning to Earth to find 6 more Apostles and to write an all new Testament.
Sadly, however while the premise is full of promise, the cast generally good and the cinematography OK, it is just not that funny, clever or satisfying.
The film has energy, ideas and a certain charm but just cannot make it work it ends up a bit of a mess to be honest.
This film has three obvious problems;
1) Major identity problems: The film starts off in a Jean-Claude Jeunet style (think Amélie), but just not quite as clever, lacks pace and is frankly only mildly amusing.
Sadly, the comedy becomes more infrequent and the tone switches to serious drama for certain elements, then back to comedy, some philosophical musing, a ton of sex but then decides to drown itself in the surreal. So surreal in fact that the film loses its audience (the Gorilla scenes) as the pacing gets worse and the script is thrown in the bin.
The schizoid nature of the film ruins it - the strong narrative set up in the first 20-30 minutes of the film is thrown out of the window along with the humour.
This film could have been a great comedy about God, existence etc, instead it just becomes an undefinable mess, not really funny, not really thought provoking and not really very entertaining.
It ends bewilderingly with a scene that does not make any sense even within the loose rules for narrative that the film sets itself.
2) A very hit and miss script:
Simply put if you do not like surrealist humour then you will hate this film.
Reflections about God, life, existence and death are treated super seriously or joked about - it has some funny observations but these are exhausted half way in and later jokes are not very amusing aside from maybe 1 or 2.
The script is at times cringe-makingly preachy - full of pseudo intellectual/philosophical musings that go nowhere and sometimes feel like a first-year university student's drunken ramblings, for example the All New Testament scene on the beach makes light of the whole premise of the film as the Apostles laugh at their quotes - not really very funny.
It then just becomes embarrassing (poor Deneuve and the Gorilla). The script just does not hit any nails on the head and in my opinion because the film does not know what it wants to be half of the time.
3) An obviously limited budget: This is least of the films problems but the digital effects which are used sparingly throughout are at times awful (the starling scene for example) The end scene effects are even worse.
Overall a very disappointing, pseudo-philosophical mess of a film - not really thought-provoking or leaving the cinema-goer with any kind of message. It fails because it does have not enough budget for Jean Claude Jeunet style visuals, is not nearly as funny as say Monty's Pythons Meaning of Life or Life of Brian, nor is it surreal enough to be truly memorable. Watch on TV on a rainy day if you have nothing better to do.
Two hours later I was grinning with delight.
Anyone who's ever had a moment's anger at god, whether a fictional construct or a closely held belief, should absolutely love this. Many a time in my life this has been my exact vision of god. His continuous frustration and childish tantrums were brilliant and hilarious.
The gender issues can't be ignored, with a little female Christ figure and the world-re-envisioning female deity making everything better with their feminine sensibilities. But this is definitely not a man- bashing movie at all, simply a god-mocking one. And not really mocking the high holy, for those who hold such things dear, but more like mocking the human vision of a petulant and insensitive god.
The tongue-in-cheek bits of wisdom filling in the stories of the apostles are perfect. Just perfect. It's sophomoric in the best sense of the word, naivete and wisdom tied up in a sardonic little package.
These days of multitasking sometimes make subtitles an inconvenience, but I was so wrapped up I completely forgot I was reading subtitles. I was just fully engaged.
I thought this picture had pretty good potential starting out, particularly with those Laws of Universal Annoyance that the script writers came up with. Like #2129, the phone will ring whenever you get in the bathtub. But then, and perhaps because this was a European picture where they take religion even less seriously than we do here, the film starts hitting on all the liberal points of view as they regard one's personal view of God and relationship with the Almighty.
For one, the God (Benoit Poelvoorde) in this picture is a reprobate, swilling beer and generally making a nuisance of himself to his family and the rest of the world with those annoying laws of his. The apostles God's daughter Ea (Pili Groyne) selects are an assortment of random misfits, which include a killer, a sex maniac, a woman (Catherine Deneuve) who established a bestial relationship with a gorilla, and a ten year old boy who wants to be a girl. Yup, just the sort of role models one would seek out if attempting to save one's soul from the hell fires of damnation.
The one concept the story did a fairly decent job with had to do with Ea's release of the dates God had on file for when everyone in the world was going to die. In a less than absurdist film, this idea could have really been explored without the farcical elements like that guy Kevin (Gaspard Pauwels), who apparently didn't get the download that all bets were off after Mrs. God inadvertently rebooted the computer. That everyone's life would undergo some significant change if one's death could truly be known is a given, so I would have appreciated a less cynical approach. Personally, I'd like to think I was going to live forever, and in the meantime, so far, so good.
Of course that's how a genre can accommodate an archetypal myth. Here the genre is the family sit-com. JC, the father/God's son, has escaped the family but hasn't been able to improve the world sufficiently. Hence the contemporary setting, where God has preferred a murderous absurd world for his own amusement.
The son having failed, now the feminine has to intervene. The young daughter Ea is the main heroine but she is abetted when her long suppressed mother — amid her domestic (i.e., cleaning) role — enables a reset that saves everyone and fills the heavens with flower wallpaper. Her projection of Interior Design is better than his ostensibly Intelligent.
In playing this theology against the context of a family sit-com (where the omniscient Father hardly knows best), the film's essential assumption is that the first wave of Christianity has failed us. Jehovah's wars and frustrations have thwarted the Son's lessons of peace and harmony.
Ea's initial revolt is to release to the world everyone's date of death. With that new and most forbidden knowledge, people lose their dependency upon God. No longer having to please him, they are prompted to redefine their lives and themselves. Each of Ea's six new apostles represents a different form of self-discovery and humanizing. The last apostle actually converts from boy to girl.
The most evocative is the matured beauty Catherine Deneuve who escapes her cold tyrant husband first with a rent boy and then, more rewardingly, with a loving gorilla. In Ea's new regime the most savage is turned into loving and the cold Christian "civility" is overthrown. Similarly another woman's insentient prosthetic arm becomes her bond with her new lover, whom her love converts from killer. In a reversal of the Eden myth, another man is led out of his self-restriction in a city park to the antithetic freedom of the Arctic. No longer at two with nature, he's led there by a flock of birds he can choreograph into visual patterns.
The film's first and essential joke is that in this theology Creation happened in modern Brussels. But far from a radical idea, that revives an essential tenet of Christianity: the eternal and pervasive presence of our divinity and our eternal battle with temptation and evil. Further, as man made God in his own image (though he arrogantly pretends the reverse), there's a certain logic in this God being a short-fused murderous and malicious abuser of women and children. That's the force we see dominating our globe.
Judging by its name, this fantastic comedy blatantly satires the existence of God, who is played by Poelvoode in his crankiest temperament, a middle-aged man living in an apartment in Brussels, with his humble wife (Moreau), their daughter Ea (Groyne) and the absence of their son Jesus Christ (Murgia). God is testy, abusive to his wife and daughter, plays tricks to human beings through his omnipotent computer simply out of boredom. One day Ea is punished for sneaking into his office and realises what her father is doing in his office hour, she decides to play tit-for-tat, at first, she clandestinely sends the death countdown of everyone in Brussels from God's computer to everyone's cellphones, then crawls from the washing machine of their apartment to the real world for the first time and resolves to find 6 disciples (thanks to the instruction of J.C.), to write down a new testament, in order to save the world from being a plaything of the abominable God.
Can you buy this context? It is archetype of some less intelligent lifeforms try to envision a much profound scenario (which is in every respect out of their comprehension) with their own rather narrow knowledges, to entertain themselves, so its innate drawback is the bitter taste of self- consciousness with this paradoxical situations: in one hand, it is massively pleasing to dethrone our creator from his reverential pedal, and put him in our shoes and being ridiculed to the hilt (he is actually beaten by a priest at one time), but in the other hand, one tends to be disillusioned by this self-pleasing approach, even in our widest imagination, God is so earth-bound with human-friendly technology, and living conditions, too blasé to feel thrilled.
From the hardware department, this CGI-heavy picture looks pristine but artificial, but one cannot help but flashing a smile when sees Denueve's apostle Martine cuddling with a not-so-convincing gorilla, a knowing nod to Nagisa Oshima's MAX MON AMOUR (1986). And a revamped appendix where a Goddess to take over the power is self-pleasing to contradict the patriarchal system, but a female-friendly sky pattern or a walking with your pet fish under the sea, or swapping the gestation to male, only means something novel to experience, with no say to contend it is a better world. Still, it is a venturing project to tackle with those larger-than-life if not entirely zany propositions, most amusingly is the exposure of everyone's remaining time, turns out to be a goldmine to ridicule the vagaries of human behaviour.
The design of Ea's six disciples is to encourage ourselves to be more communicative, to open up instead of indulging in one's own propensities, and to pursue what our hearts really crave for (a repetitive troupe of a theme song for every soul). Newcomer Pili Groyne impresses with her cherubic and precocious attributes (but how come God has a daughter only ten years old? This is a minefield Dormael refuses to elucidate); supporting players are all bigger names in French- speaking cinema, but none of them is required to perform other than their characters' formulated quirks.
All in all, the intention behind Dormael's comedy is genial and it aims for distraction rather than religion-defiance, it is not a divine eye-opener like it advertises, but neither is a disappointing pap, it sits somewhere in between, quite comfortably.
The story centres on an arrogant and abusive father who is also the creator the universe, especially the designer of the lives on the earth and this tale takes place in the Belgian capital, Brussels. When his bored and concerned daughter Ea, runs away from home to re-edit his creation as advised by her brother JC, he goes after her to ensure everything stay as he had planned. In an unexpected confrontation between father and daughter, in the end who is going to be victorious is the rest of the narration. Remember, there is a post credit scene, which opens the door for a possible sequel, but I don't think that'll happen.
"Giving men knowledge of their own death... Crazy!"
It was a beautiful concept, but I don't think I liked the entire narration, though some of the parts were very interesting. Since it was a fantasy, logics are not required, but the lack of the basic explanation was the setback if you're a broad minded. This film is for the simple minds, especially after knowing the theme you should not anticipate a genuine tale with great adventure and stunts, particularly not visual extravaganza. It was kind of a drama-adventure, something like entering the world that created by you and experiencing all by yourself the positives and negatives of it.
Somewhat it was a fun, so definitely not a bad film, but I felt it should have been a lot more than that. Kind of a missed opportunity and falls into a simplicity. All the actors were good, especially the little girl. But I think it's not suitable for the children on the ground of a film character who is associated with sex related stuff, hence it got a few brief nudes.
The God character was awesome, even though his acts are predictable I enjoyed the comedies delivered by him. The Ea's undertaking was more a serious and which tries to relate with the Chritianity, especially 'The Last Supper' after her decision to help a few selected people down in the earth over billions. All the above it was barely a magical film, so that's where you've to compromise than to expect crazy stuffs out of it. So in my opinion, it was not delightful as it looks nor the best work of this talented director, but a decent 2 hour long film.
The acting is good, though some of the themes will rather annoy than offend people. Whether they are atheist or religious won't matter, if you don't think it's funny. And while it's provocative, it's also sort of "respectful" in a way. Still the basic idea alone almost warrants the running time and the viewing itself.
- The Brand New Testament (French: Le Tout Nouveau Testament) is a 2015 fantasy black comedy film written, produced, and directed by Jaco Van Dormael. It is a co-production between Belgium, France, and Luxembourg. The film was screened at the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. It was selected as the Belgian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards, making the December shortlist of nine films.
--Reception: -The Brand New Testament received acclaim from film critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 80, based on 5 reviews.
I however didn't like the story with Catherine Deneuve, and the portrayal of a mighty computer.
Also, it's always a pleasure to watch foreign movies in small theaters in San Francisco. Going to big chain theaters showing blockbuster movies with 30 min trailers and advertisements in giant crowded and way-too-loud theaters is not how I like to watch my movies... But I digress.