Sunday, October 4, 2015

Le Tout Nouveau Testament

Le Tout Nouveau Testament (The Brand New Testament) is a film nicely established by its first line: "God is real, and he lives in Brussels." The premise is extended by the stipulation that God lives in a top-floor apartment, which he has never left since the beginning of time, with his wife and 10-year-old daughter (his son having snuck out in a well-documented episode and Gotten Into A Bit of Trouble With The Romans). He runs everything through an outdated computer in his bigger-on-the-inside home office. And "runs everything" really means everything: we see him devising weather disasters, the rule that "the other line always moves faster", and managing individuals' lives, all through this computer.

God is also kind of horrible, true to the Old Testament version of things. Corporal punishment, strict rules, no empathy with suffering. His daughter sneaks into his office, SMSes everyone on the planet with their exact date of death, changes the root password, and then escapes the apartment (Jesus told her that the washing machine has a secret tunnel down to the Earth!). When God (of course) follows her, to try to retrieve (1) his daughter, and (2) access to his omnipotent computer, he is confronted with the unpleasantnesses of the world that he devised. To great comedic effect. The directors, editors, and writers clearly want God to be an unsympathetic character, and they are successful. His sympathetic daughter, of course, seeks apostles while on Earth and has a scribe (homeless man) following her, writing a new testament. She does some miracles, just light ones --- doubling a sandwich, walking across a canal. Nothing showy, but played for laughs in contrast with God's clear lack of powers (he plunges into the canal, and is hungry, dirty, and eventually deported).

It was a neat movie, although it didn't contain as many laughs as I expected from the premise. Many of the apostles' stories (interwoven, of course, throughout the film) were lonely and bleak, and invited serious reflection in the audience. (The color palette, dominated by greys and rain, echoed this.) These were intercut with cute "news" segments showing ridiculous things, but the overall tone was more somber than expected. (I think I expected something more silly, like the tone of Amélie.)

I recommend.

This post's theme word is naches, "emotional gratification or pride, especially taken vicariously at the achievement of one's children." Not much naches is on display here.

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