Review: ‘Brand New Testament’ a whimsical look at God

Tom Long
The Detroit News

God is a jerk. He lives in a high-rise apartment in Brussels and spends his days in his pajamas, working on a computer, coming up with ways to make human beings miserable.

God’s son, JC, ran off to live among the humans and got himself killed. Now all God (Benoit Poelvoorde) has at home are his cowering wife (Yolande Moreau) and his rebellious young daughter, Ea (the charming Pili Groyne).

Ea is tired of being kept under lock and key by God. So she sneaks off to the human world, to gather her own apostles and put together a new testament. But before she goes, she breaks into God’s office, commandeers his computer, and sends an email to everyone on earth informing them of precisely when they’re going to die.

Such is the outlandish and thoroughly enjoyable setup to “The Brand New Testament,” a cosmological comedy that happily trades in blasphemy and whimsy. Ea sets forth among the humans — with a homeless man taking notes — and finds six who will serve as her apostles.

These include an assassin, a businessman, a lithe one-armed beauty, a self-proclaimed sex maniac and a young cross-dressing boy. There’s also Catherine Deneuve as a rich woman in a loveless marriage. She winds up falling for, and sleeping with, a gorilla. This movie, directed and co-written by Jaco Van Dormael, knows few boundaries.

And yet it is, in essence, a very sweet tale of re-imagination and perseverance, of unlikely redemption and hope. Ea doesn’t like the world she’s in and so sets out to make a better one. God, of course, doesn’t much like this. But really, who cares? God, remember, is a jerk.

Tom Long is a longtime culture critic.

@toomuchTomLong

‘The Brand New Testament’

GRADE: B+

Not rated

Running time: 114 minutes

At The Detroit Film Theatre