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Published January 25th, 2017
Discover 'A Brand New Testament' During the International Film Showcase
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You may not have known it, but God has been living in Bruxelles, Belgium, since... well... forever! This is at least according to this new irreverent movie, "A Brand New Testament," and he is not the benevolent fatherly figure you might have imagined. In this funny, sarcastic, and caustic film, he is mean, sexist, certainly well-organized, and with something of a sadistic bent.
For a week, the Orinda Theater will present this crazy comedy full of surprises as part of the International Film Showcase. This is a not-to-be-missed opportunity for some good laughs.
It is pretty clear that Jaco van Dormael, the director-writer-producer of the movie, had a great deal of fun creating this surreal and jubilant tale of rebellion. The most movie buffs will remember van Dormael for his first acclaimed delightful movie "Toto the Hero" in 1991.
The film starts with pure imaginative craziness with Beno├ęt Poelvoorde, who really pushes the envelope, portraying God as an authoritarian maniac who drives his wife and daughter crazy, not to mention the whole of humanity. Poelvoorde is one of French-speaking-Europe's favorite comedians, always bordering on absurd humor with traits of poetry. He makes no effort here to improve his unprepossessing appearance and adds no redeeming quality to God. It is no wonder that his daughter - yes, God has a 10 years old daughter - rebels. And then, all hell breaks loose.
Yolande Moreau, another remarkable and well-known European actress, is God's wife. The poor clueless creature seems to have given up completely, but one should not underestimate Mrs. God.
In the second part of the movie, the daughter strays from the family's nest to look for apostles of her own; she meets all kinds of different characters, some of them quite surprising. Those who like classic French actress Catherine Deneuve will certainly appreciate her transformation in this movie.
The second half of the movie is less radical and more poetic, mitigating the first part's caustic vision of religion. Some critics in Europe regretted that van Dormael did not push more the subversive quality of his movie, but the optimism and niceness of the discourse should appeal to an American audience. No worries though, even when he becomes nice, van Dormael continues to be humorous and surprising.
If you have not seen the trailer for this movie, do not look for it. The preview gives out too many of the surprises of the film. It's a good idea to allow for the unexpected. Ultimately, the laughs caused by the movie give a feeling of well being, so why not take advantage of it?
"The Brand New Testament" will open at the Orinda Theatre on Jan. 27 for a week. More information at www.Lamorindatheatres.com

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