The Brand New Testament

The purest fantasy film of the year proposes a rival to the Christian God who tells you how long you have to live.

If the kindest thing that can be said about the Christian God is that he’s indifferent to human suffering, then Jaco Van Dormael’s gleefully profane fable The Brand New Testament takes a less kind and far funnier view. God (Benoît Poelvoorde) is a middle-aged asshole who created humans just so he could fuck with them — a theory that checks out — and he lives in an impenetrable, bigger-on-the-inside Brussels apartment with his largely silent wife (Yolande Moreau) and teenage daughter Ea (Pili Groyne). (Jesus has long since moved out, of course.) After Ea reveals to humanity exactly how much longer each individual has to live, be it minutes or decades, she descends to Earth to gather six new apostles to round out the original 12. Among them are self-described sex maniac Marc (Serge Larivière), budding mass murderer François (François Damiens), upper-crust and latently zoophilic Martine (Catherine Deneuve), and Ea’s personal favorite, young transgender girl Willy (Romain Gelin) — all while the angry but now-powerless God tries to track her down. With its humanist vision of what it would be like if there really were an omniscient being who had even the slightest ounce of compassion, The Brand New Testament may well be the purest fantasy film of the year. It’s certainly one of the most satisfying.

The Brand New Testament
Not rated.
Opens Friday at the Opera Plaza Cinema.

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