Oddly funny 'Brand New Testament' upsets expectations

Colin Covert
Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (TNS)
  • "The Brand New Testament" is in French and German with subtitles.
  • 3 out of 4 stars.

"The Brand New Testament" is a clever, funny, subversive oddity from Brussels. This theological farce turns biblical tables and upsets expectations with results as yummy as Belgian waffles.
Here God himself lives in a nondescript flat with his downtrodden wife and their 10-year-old daughter Ea (charming Pili Groyne), and he never gets out of his pajamas. Ea aims to escape for a sample of daily life among humans, dull as that is. While her hostile creator creates new rules to knock around mankind ("Law 1522: If one day you fall in love with a woman, there's a great chance you will not spend your life with her"), she crawls through a washing machine, exiting in a distant laundromat and rounding up six apostles to help her rebel against his control.

The absurdist comedy is all the sharper because Ea has halted her papa's countdown clock, which used to terminate people's lives the instant he wanted them to end. And soon her jerk of a father is in pursuit.
From there the film ambles into a half-dozen yarns full of strong black humor, including a character played by Catherine Deneuve, who undertakes a remarkable affair straight out of "Beauty and the Beast." Even the final credits are blissfully entertaining, with an excellent gag at the end.

The name of writer/director/producer Jaco Van Dormael isn't familiar yet, but on the strength of this film, maybe we should bookmark his IMDB page.

3 out of 4 stars
In subtitled French and German

From left, Benoit Poelvoorde, Yolande Moreau and Pili Groyne star in "The Brand New Testament." The film opens Friday at Small Star Art House.