“I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability.”

Oscar Wilde

You may have, in the course of your life, blamed God for all your misfortunes: the rain on your parade and bad grades and certainly the election results. Who is this God who keeps assaulting me, you wonder?

Well, you can blame Belgian writer-director Jaco Van Dormael for not telling you the truth sooner. God, it turns out, is not your mother’s God, or your grandfather’s God. He’s definitely not the white bearded fellow sitting on a cloud, pointing a finger at Adam. He’s pointing a finger, but it’s not the index finger.

God, it turns out, is not only the angry, vengeful God of the Old Testament, but an even more nasty, sadistic, ill-tempered, scrubby old schmuck, a bully misogynist in stained underwear, who goes around in an old Sears-Roebuck robe and drug store slippers and smells like “a distillery where a camel had died.”

This God (Benoit Poelvoorde) is not the one listed on your dollar bill, and he’s not in Heaven. In fact, according to Van Dormael, there is no paradise with golden streets and golden slippers, only a rundown neighborhood with worn out flip flops and bad smog.

Van Dormael’s snarky God, we discover, lives in a shabby old Brussels apartment building with his docile, submissive wife (Yolande Moreau) and a brillant 10-year-old mischievous daughter named Ea (Pili Groyne).

We also learn, much to our amazement and horror, that we here on earth are all listed in a mountain of file cabinets and on God’s ancient out-of-date computer, clearly not a MacBook Air.

Everything about you is on this computer, your date of birth and death, dentist appointments and when you’ll get arthritis and athlete’s foot.

You will soon learn to hate this God, but love the simple-minded Mrs. God, and adore Ea who has a big brother, “J.C.” Big brother got tired of being beaten and taunted by daddy God and hid in a statue of Jesus, hence the name J.C.

Weary of being chastised and belt whipped, little Ea steals God-Daddy’s key and breaks into his computer, and with a few taps, sends emails to every smartphone in the world, telling folks exactly when they’re going to die, right down to the day, hour and minute. You can imagine what soul searching, spiritual chaos and multiple dilemmas emerge.

After this bit of cosmic playfulness, Ea sets out on a journey to write a new testament. She meets a homeless man (Marco Lorenzini) who makes notes and begins to put her work into print.

The charming, heart-tugging little girl, determined to bring love and compassion to a troubled world, collects six wonderful unhappy strangers, writes their stories down and collects their tears in tiny vials.

Her new apostles include Aurelie, who has a prosthetic arm; a small boy (Romain Gelin); a woman (Catherine Deneuve) who goes to a circus and falls in love with a gorilla, buys him and brings him home where they proceed to fall in passionate love. Yes, Deneuve and a gorilla, that’s all we’ll say about that. You can close your eyes in that part.

Meanwhile God, while out searching for Ea, leaves Mama God at home, where she sets out to clean her ugly husband’s office, pulls a plug for her vacuum and … well, I can say no more. It’s a surprise and one you’ll love.

“The Brand New Testament” is a mess, but warm, snuggly and often a touching mess full of bizarre surprises. It won everyone’s heart at last year’s Maine International Film Festival and its Audience First Prize. There is nudity, sexuality, tough language and a touch of violence. In other words, all the fun stuff in the real Old Testament. Enjoy.

J.P. Devine is a former stage and screen actor.

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