Jaco Van Dormael, that visual master of prestidigitation and whimsy, is back -- with a "religious" movie that is not merely irreverent but downright nasty (deservedly so: we're talking god here), smart, angry, romantic, charming, funny, feminist, and philosophical, too. It is also a major delight from start to finish.
Toto The Hero and Mr. Nobody -- has now provided a kind of trilogy of world-class amazements with his latest work, THE BRAND NEW TESTAMENT, via which we learn that god is alive and unwell mentally and living in Brussels, with his beleaguered wife and angry, adolescent daughter.
Benoît Poelvoorde (above), just adds to the fun.
Pili Groyne, above, right, and below (the fabulous actress Yolande Moreau plays mom, above, center) decides to do something about her dad's decadent reign, the plot takes off and doesn't stop until the guy is put in his place and the world can maybe begin again. Under new management.
Catherine Deneuve (in background, above, and second from right, two photos above), as game as ever and here to be found in bed with a gorilla -- and, no, I do not mean Gérard Depardieu in his macho nutcase mode -- but the real thing. Each of the new disciples, you see, is afflicted with a rather desperate human need, which our good daughter and her brand new testament can heal.
Laura Verlinden, above) with her own physical limitation. Van Dormael's past use of whimsy has, I think, alienated certain critics. Here, however, they may find themselves in the fold, due to the director's ability to make that whimsy unusually pointed, meaningful and rich -- and, in the case of Ms Verlinden's character, exquisitely moving.
François Damiens, above, playing a disciple with a killer instinct.)
The Innocents, Francofonia and Monster With a Thousand Heads) to be released this year by Music Box Films -- in French and German with English subtitles, runs 114 minutes. In terms of length, this comes in about halfway between Toto and Nobody. Where whimsy is concerned, shorter, I think, is generally better. The film opens this Friday, December 9, in New York City (at The Landmark Sunshine Cinema), Los Angeles (at the Landmark NuArt) and South Florida: in Miami at the MDC Tower Theater, in Boca Raton at the Living Room Theaters, and in Fort Lauderdale at the Gateway Theater. Over the weeks to come the film will open in another 36 cities. To view them all, simply click here and then click on THEATERS in the task bar midway down the screen.