Our most cinephilic francophiles head to the 2016 Melbourne French Film Festival. These are their reviews.
We continue our Melbourne French Film Festival Review Series with our guest writer, professional translator Véronique Bergeron, and her review of Jaco van Dormael’s 2015 film Le Tout Nouveau Testament.
Ea is a 10 year old girl totally fed up with her horrible, abusive dad so she decides it’s time to get back at him. The thing is, her dad is God, (who, unlike his traditional image, is a horrible dork in dressing gown and slippers and so bored in his small high-rise flat that he created mankind to have something to toy with and torture) and her grand plan is to SMS the whole of mankind with the date of their death. Once done, she escapes from their dingy family flat and with the backing of her older brother JC, goes into the big wide world to find 6 more apostles and write a brand new Testament. As for mankind, once the SMSs are proved to be true when people start dying as per their received dates and times, everyone starts to reflect on why they live and how.
Le Tout Nouveau Testament is clearly not a movie for anyone with little or no tolerance for blasphemy or satirising religion in general (and God in particular). The director, Jaco van Dormael, who a few years ago brought us Toto The Hero, insists that he had no intention to shock and only sees religions as a series of tales and stories. If you can get past this, you’ll find a charming, quick-paced and witty fantasy comedy reminiscent of Gilliam and Gondry at their best.
The story follows Ea as she meets her apostles, who each bring a moral tale about the way they choose to live their lives in the time they have left on earth. In the meantime, God tries to catch up with his daughter and stumbles from one misadventure to the other until his final demise – no spoilers…but it is funny.
There’s plenty of black humour and plenty to reflect on beyond the funny moments. The casting is strong and faultless, with many Belgian actors such as Benoît Poelvoorde and François Damiens in leading roles, joined by Catherine Deneuve as a bored, ageing executive wife whose life choices change radically once she discovers her date with destiny. The young Pili Groyne, who was Marion Cotillard’s daughter in Two Days, One Night, plays Ea with assurance and gusto. All in all, it’s an individual and original author piece that stands out from the average offering of commercial cinema and makes us await van Dormael’s next piece of work.
By Véronique Bergeron.
Catch Le Tout Nouveau Testament at the festival here.