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The Believer (2002)


Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 90
Fresh: 74
Rotten: 16

Critics Consensus: Gosling commands the screen with a raw, electrifying performance.

Average Rating: 6.8/10
Reviews Counted: 26
Fresh: 19
Rotten: 7

Critics Consensus: Gosling commands the screen with a raw, electrifying performance.


Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 24,501



Movie Info

In this powerful and disturbing drama, Danny Balint (Ryan Gosling) is a member of a gang of racist skinheads who espouses a vile but well-articulated philosophy of anti-Semitism. Danny also has a secret -- he is a Jew, and was a top student in Hebrew school before he began to ask too many questions about the deeper implications of the teachings in the Torah and the Old Testament, leading to his expulsion. Angry and confused, Danny began to explore the philosophies of the neo-Nazi movement, which … More

R (adult situations/language, violence)
Directed By:
Written By:
Henry Bean
In Theaters:
Apr 22, 2003
Box Office:
IDP Distribution - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Believer

All Critics (91) | Top Critics (26) | Fresh (74) | Rotten (16) | DVD (12)

An exploration of what it means to be Jewish and what it means to hate - two separate subjects that happen to overlap in this case.

Full Review… | October 15, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

No polemic, the movie puts our own religious sensibilities and prejudices to the test. The result is arresting, prickly, vaguely funny, even - 'difficult' in the best sense.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

An important movie, a reminder of the power of film to move us and to make us examine our values.

Full Review… | August 16, 2002
Toronto Star
Top Critic

[Gosling's] combination of explosive physical energy and convincing intelligence helps create a complex, unpredictable character.

Full Review… | August 16, 2002
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

One of the year's most thought-provoking, hard-hitting films, gutsily opening up a subject rarely done with this kind of all-out chutzpah.

Full Review… | July 20, 2002
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

A somewhat crudely constructed but gripping, questing look at a person so racked with self-loathing, he becomes an enemy to his own race.

Full Review… | July 12, 2002
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Gosling's Danny is frighteningly believable, in his mad hatreds and when gradually confronting inner doubts.

Full Review… | January 1, 2013
Observer [UK]

The underlying premise of The Believer is simple and understandable to any one of us who have grown indifferent to many of the teachings we accepted with such naivetÚ, such open hopeful hearts throughout our early education.

Full Review… | September 27, 2006

Loosely based on Daniel Burros (a Nazi who killed himself when the NY Times revealed his Jewishness), the film offers a stimulating meditation on the inescapable impact of religion and burden of history on personal identities.

Full Review… | April 6, 2006

Em uma performance absolutamente brilhante, o jovem Ryan Gosling cria um personagem que, mesmo moralmente desprezÝvel, fascina por seu conflito interior.

June 7, 2004
Cinema em Cena

The underdevloped Believer has at its core a performance of searing and genuine intensity, yet it also regrettably handles the psychological turmoil of its antagonistic protagonist with kid gloves.

Full Review… | July 18, 2003
Entertainment Today

Gosling projects a feral intelligence that is riveting...

July 3, 2003
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

It's an explosive and disturbing film that forces the audience to ask difficult questions about the nature of belief.

Full Review… | July 2, 2003

It made for an emotionally hair-pulling ride, without benefit of much intellectual give and take.

Full Review… | June 29, 2003
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

An uncomfortable experience, but one as brave and challenging as you could possibly expect these days from American cinema.

Full Review… | April 29, 2003

The Believer is packed to the gills with various speeches and lectures and theological bantering. Much of it ends with someone getting a baseball bat to the head.

Full Review… | April 27, 2003

this polarizing film deserves a wider audience

Full Review… | February 23, 2003
Old School Reviews

Artful, effective and socially redeeming stuff.

January 30, 2003
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

You just get the sense that what you're seeing is a very personal struggle in what will probably be one of the most powerful films of the year.

Full Review… | December 8, 2002
Film Threat

Like Edward Norton in American History X, Ryan Gosling (Murder By Numbers) delivers a magnetic performance.

November 20, 2002
Creative Loafing

The performances all do justice to this material.

Full Review… | November 8, 2002
Charlotte Observer

Gosling ... is brilliant -- and truly frightening -- in this career-making role.

Full Review… | October 21, 2002
San Diego Metropolitan

...a movie about the nature of faith and the mystery of existence - and the thin, transitory line between love and hate.

Full Review… | October 1, 2002
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Gosling provides an amazing performance that dwarfs everything else in the film.

Full Review… | September 5, 2002
Des Moines Register

Audience Reviews for The Believer


Three years previous to this, director Tony Kaye and star Edward Norton addressed white supremicist racism in "American History X". This shares similiar themes but focuses more on the hatred toward Jews. The real similarity between the films though are blisteringly powerful performances from both lead actors.
Daniel Balint (Ryan Gosling) is a yeshiva-educated young Jewish man in New York who rejects his heritage and chooses to become a neo-Nazi skinhead. His passion is frighteningly real which leads to looming dangers for himself and his community.
The comparisons are inevitable and although both powerful and controversial films in their own right, with "American History X" and "The Believer" it's the tour-de-force performances from Edward Norton and Ryan Gosling that really take centre stage. Gosling is no less effective than Norton's Oscar nominated turn and after seeing this, it's getting to the stage that it seems there's no limits to his acting range. He is this film. Don't get me wrong, writer/director Henry Bean crafts some strong and intelligent dialogue, but it's Gosling's delivery of anti-semitic vitriol that packs the real power. The problems it faces are having a less than par supporting cast and a made for television budget. The flaws show but it's still a savage examination of anti-semitism and one worthy of attention.
A brave film anchored by a bold and brave performance. It's easy to see why this put Ryan Gosling on the map, he delivers a ferocious piece of work.

Mark Walker

Super Reviewer


Ryan shines as an actor. Without the cliches like the tight jawed, no make up wearing woman with the pulled back hair trying to control an activist movement and the whore that is capable of love; this movie had more potential that was lost. This was one of Ryan Gosling's earliest standout roles and knowing he started on "The Mickey Mouse Club" and has not had formal acting training shows an actor that chooses jobs that challenge him verses makes him money (although I am sure he has plenty money also).

Thomas Johnston

Super Reviewer

The Believer is a tale of hypocrocy and confusion. Whilst Gosling plays his role well, the storyline (although worthy of telling) isn?t told in the best way possible.

As there are many neo/nazi style films that have been told quite powerfully and realistically this doesn?t quite measure up for me, but still makes an eye-opening watch.

Lady D'arbanville

Super Reviewer

I really didn't want to watch this film. I am not a big fan of racist movies. But I watched it for the simple fact that Ryan Gosling is in it and I am an avid fan. So I wanted to see him become this role, and that he did.. There were deffinetly moments I cringed and found myself wanting to stop the movie. Ryan seems to throw himself into any and every character he is. I thought his performance was another outstanding one. I think his character is struggling to comes to terms with his relationship with God and the more he fights his Jewish beliefs the closer it brings him to them. I find his character to be very confused on who he wants to be. I am glad I decided to watch this movie and glad I didn't press stop. I think Ryan is such an amazing actor and really doesn't get enough credit. Watch this film..


Super Reviewer

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