The NZIFF is starting soon. Tickets are selling out quickly, so get yours before it’s too late! I already recommended you some of the French-Speaking movies I loved at the Cannes Festival last year. Now, I’d like to talk to you about the French-Speaking film I want to see the most: The Brand New Testament directed by Jaco Van Dormael.
What is The Brand New Testament about?
God exists. It’s an alcoholic who lives in Brussels and doesn’t care about humans that much. But things won’t stay the same! His daughter decides to take revenge on his unreliable father, and decides to save humanity in her own way. Thank to her, people will start to live again, more eagerly, more passionately, and some of them more absurdly!
I’m sure this comedy will make us laugh out loud! I won’t tell you too much about it: I don’t like to spoil the jokes! However, I can tell you that, in Jaco van Dormael’s new feature, miracles happen, new apostles are found, and one of our most famous French actresses falls in love with a gorilla!
The sense of self-mockery of Belgian people
I love Belgium. I grew up nearby the Belgian border, and came back to Brussels later to study cinema. Since I’m a little child, I feel like at home in this tiny country. It’s a place where art is ’round the corner, where poetry is absurd – “This is not a pipe?”, Magritte’s famous quote doesn’t sounds familiar? –, where humour is a national pride, and where, of course, beer flows abundantly!
To me, Belgium is similar to New Zealand, in a way. Not concerning the relief! It’s a wellknown flat land, in which you won’t find any Alps! But concerning its relationship to a bigger state, that it cannot compete with. New Zealand is Australia’s little sister. Belgium is France’s little one. This particular place among the brotherhood gives both little countries, a kind of inferiority complex towards the bigger nations, that make them more relax. They know how to enjoy life.
Sometimes, French people scorn Belgians because of this freshness that they found too “simple”. We definitely take ourselves, too seriously, forgive us 🙂 We love arguing while drinking red wine and smoking cigarettes, they prefer staying down-to-earth, enjoying a good beer! Each country to its own!
Jaco Van Dormael and the power of magic realism
One of the main features of Belgian cinema matches with their way of seeing life: it’s the so-called magic realism. It portrays fantastical events in an otherwise realistic tone.
That’s exactly what Jaco Van Dormael does, since the beginning of its carrier: he intermingles inner fantasies and reality, converting our world into a dreamlike atmosphere. His films celebrate the power of imagination and the endless possibilities of creation. As you must have already found out, the storyline of The Brand New Testament is no exception to the rule!
Furthermore, this time again, the Belgian director lays a great importance on childhood and naive minds. His first feature, Toto the Heros celebrates childhood’s dreams and memories. In The Eighth Day, a character suffering from Down’s syndrome leads us the way. This time, God’s daughter, a cheeky little girl, has the craving to play and create that adults don’t have anymore.
As it happens, the worldwide acknowledged Belgian director can transform a very philosophical and metaphysical subject, into a more poetical tale. That’s definitely one of his qualities: he can introduce magic in every subject. You’ll be plunge right into his quirky universe: sometimes enchanted, this time surely more delirious!
I can’t wait to see The Brand New Testament, I’m pretty sure it would be an exhilirating comedy, still full of wit and wisdom.
By the way, adults protagonists are played by the funniest Belgian actors of our time. Benoît Poelvoorde (Man Bites Dogs, Le Grand Soir) played God, Yolande Moreau (Amélie, Séraphine) plays his wife. François Damiens (The Bélier Family) will also make you laugh heartily. Trust me, you’ll enjoy your time!
A nice song to conclude this post: La Mer (the Sea) by Charles Trénet. I’ve been told that Jaco makes a fish sing it in the movie!