There’s the Old Testament, the New Testament and now this surreal and funny Brand New one in which God’s ten-year-old daughter leaves home on a mission to liberate humanity from the bored old man’s destructive whims.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
In Belgian director Jaco Van Dormael’s universe, God (Benoit Poelvoorde) is a mean-spirited bastard lounging around his Brussels apartment in dressing gown and trackies, watching sport on TV and wreaking havoc on the world from his DOS-run PC. Goddess (the marvellous Yolande Moreau), his long suffering wife, sticks to her embroidery and bides her time. But ten-year-old daughter Éa (played by a fantastic young actress, Pili Groyne) has taken one too many strappings from the old man and resolves – with the help of her better-known older brother – to liberate the world from the malign hand of Dad. Not to give away too much about her mission, she sets about recruiting six disciples whose testimony about their own miracle-free lives will constitute the Brand New Testament. Surreal silliness ensues, with some florid CGI assistance, and memorable encounters with, amongst others, a small boy who wants to be a girl and Catherine Deneuve as a wealthy shopaholic who bonds with a gorilla. Literal adherents of the previous two Testaments need not apply, but there’s a daffy innocence – a touch of Amélie – about this brand new one.
Van Dormael maintains a blazing storytelling momentum and a highly creative visual scheme. He’s in the Gondry/Gilliam zone, but if you can’t get down with a floating fish skeleton humming ‘La Mer’, why do you go to the movies in the first place?… This is a vision of optimism, of people being given the opportunity to help one another and doing it with tenderness. If you can get past the initial blasphemy, you’ll find a highly moral film.” — Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian