The Brand New Testament, film review: ‘Belgian comedy plays with Christian myths’

A scene from Brand New Testament

A scene from Brand New Testament - Credit: Archant

The premise of this Belgian comedy is basically that of the song, “What if God was one of us/ just a slob like one of us.”

The idea of man making God in his own image is an old one but Van Dormael has given us a creator who isn’t just one of us, he’s the worst of us.

Sat over his computer he’s like an Internet troll spending his days dreaming up new examples of Sod’s Law to impose on humanity.

Luckily for us, he has a rebellious daughter Ea (Groyne) who wants to protect humanity from her father’s tyranny.

Her first move though is to inform every human by email, exactly how long they have until they die.

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I imagine many of you will be a little wary of that premise, thinking it sounds a bit wacky or, with all due respect, a bit Douglas Adams.

But Van Dormael is a whimsical fantasist in the style of Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet or Michel Gondry and if his ideas aren’t profound, he delivers his frivolity with a nice mixture of fun and poignancy.

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In this age of magical thinking and intolerance, how is it that a film that travesties not just Christianity but the roots of all major religions can pass without provoking vitriolic reprisals?

I think because it is treated as a kind of fairytale – an Alice in Wonderland in reverse with Ea escaping down a washing machine wormhole into the real world.

Christian myths are played with, but not mocked because the film doesn’t really give them any credence or weight.

They’re just stories to have fun with.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

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