Frank’s Takes: Brand New Testament


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Franco Bosco | bosco004@rangers.uwp.edu

“Who would’ve guessed that God had a real sense of dark humor?”

Back by popular demand, UW-Parkside continues its 35th annual Foreign Film Series (FFS), showcasing a wide variety of independent, award-winning movies from around the globe. FFS is screened in the Student Center cinema throughout the fall and spring semesters.

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday, this year’s film series has brought us quite a different approach on “spoofing.” In fact, the “nitty-gritty” of the film is the spoofing of the Catholic Bible. Never in my dreams would I have thought it possible to poke comedy-fun at the gospel, but a man in France had the vision to make it come to fruition.

Enter: Jaco Van Dormael’s The Brand New Testament.

Plots and thoughts

The Brand New Testament is directed by Jaco Van Dormael and tells the story of the dark, satirical look into the life of God. Here is the catch: God is a slobbish bully who shares his apartment in heaven with his baseball-obsessed wife and his prepubescent daughter, Ea. God’s duties consist of sitting in front of a computer in a raggy, old robe as he thinks upon new ways to bring misery to mankind. In short, God created humans just to mess with them.

Personal religious feelings aside, The Brand New Testament actually surprised me. I felt a movie like this would not exist, let alone be recognized by any award committees. This film’s constant jabs at the Catholic religion could very well be taken in the wrong way. Surprisingly enough, I have to give the devil, or in this case, God, his due. The Brand New Testament turned out to be a sweet, joyous, and gentle poke at the Catholic religion.

Belgian actor Benoît Poelvoorde takes on the role of God. As I stated earlier, God is a jerk who likes to throw his weight around. However, Poelvoorde’s portrayal is something to be respected; he was fantastic at being a scumbag. I mean that in the best way possible way because of the performance that Poelvoorde brought to the table. He is good at being bad, so what else can I say?

I believe the best performance of this film has to go to God’s daughter, Ea, played by Pili Groyne. In my opinion, she has to be one of the best child actors I have seen in a long while. She is funny, witty, and has such a great, natural energy to her rebellious character. Groyne shows Ea’s humanity in a relatable way.

Aside from this film’s strong comedy, there is also a good amount of computer generated images (CGI), which is used beautifully throughout the movie. There are shots in this film that you would swear are real. Von Dormael did an excellent job blending real life with fantastical visual elements.

Overall take

In the end, I was astounded by how much I enjoyed this unique portrayal of God. The humour is outrageous and fearless, but the straight-faced conviction with which Van Dormael and his cast approach the material sets a strangely innocent tone to the film. Aside from a couple of small nitpicks, this is a very innovative and great satirical outlook into religion.

I am going to give Jaco Van Dormael’s The Brand New Testament an “A-” on my movie-grading scale. If you’re not easily offended by poking fun at religious banter and/or French subtitles, I would highly recommend going out to see this film in the Student Center cinema, December 1st-4th.

For more reviews on the latest movies to hit the theaters, check out my movie blog! http://www.frankstakes.wordpress.com.

PHOTO CREDIT: UW-PARKSIDE’S FOREIGN FILM SERIES

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