When I go to YouTube, I watch any film trailer that shows a girl in the screengrab, especially if I‚Äôve never heard of the film. This can lead to a few enjoyable hours researching films, stars and directors I have never heard of. Yet even for a lifelong film buff, it can be hard to commit to watching an entire film, rather than just reading about it. But when I saw the trailer for Jaco Van Dormael‚Äôs religious fantasy/comedy film The Brand New Testament, I knew I had to watch it right away.
The Brand New Testament begins with God living in Brussels with his silent wife and ten-year-old daughter Ea (played by Pili Groyne). Since creating the universe, God has become a pathetic sadist who delights in tormenting mortals. However, he is wary of Ea, who has powers that he does not: she can move objects with her thoughts and walk on water. In an act of rebellion, Ea hacks God’s computer and sends out the death dates of every human on the planet in a mass text. Escaping into the world, Ea finds her own apostles and starts writing her own Brand New Testament.
One of the apostles is Willy (Romain Gelin), a ten-year-old transgender girl whose childhood has been awful. Willy is not only closeted, but has a mother who manipulates her into believing she is constantly ill. Upon learning her death date, Willy comes out as trans. The scenes where Ea and Willy come together to enjoy life are adorable. They decide to live the days of the week as months of the year, and celebrate holidays and changing seasons every day.
It is important to note that Willy is played by a child actor who is presumably a cisgender boy. Willy is portrayed with a great deal of love and care, which is why I feel comfortable recommending the film.
The Brand New Testament is beautifully shot, lightly written and constantly surprising. It is also hilarious, particularly when Ea‚Äôs father ventures into the world and finds himself at the mercy of his own petty rules. But what made the film such a delight was its depiction of two extraordinary little girls carving out their own path in life.
Girl Museum Inc.