The Believer (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Believer (2002)



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

Movie Info

A highly charged drama centering on a Jewish Nazi and based upon a real-life tale, this film by Henry Bean looks at young Danny Balint (Ryan Gosling), a former yeshiva student with a thorough knowledge of the Torah who is first seen as an angry skinhead roaming the streets of New York City. Danny has found allies in the home of Lina Moebius (Theresa Russell), where fascist leader Curtis Zampf (Billy Zane) has been speaking, and he begins to become part of their circle, including romancing Lina's troubled daughter Carla (Summer Phoenix). After a fight in a kosher deli, Danny and his skinhead pals are sentenced to sensitivity sessions with elderly Holocaust survivors, and though Danny is angered by their passivity, their stories haunt him. When the bombing of a synagogue is proposed, Danny is shocked to learn that he cares somewhat for this history that he has been ignoring. Living a more peaceful Jewish existence by day and a hate-fueled skinhead life at night, Danny is conflicted by his upbringing and the desire to question it. The Believer was the Grand Jury Prize winner at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.more
Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Henry Bean
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 22, 2003
IDP Distribution - Official Site

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Ryan Gosling
as Danny Balint
Summer Phoenix
as Carla Moebius
Theresa Russell
as Lina Moebius
Billy Zane
as Curtis Zampf
Kris Eivers
as Carleton
Roberto Gari
as Ancient Jew
A.D. Miles
as Guy Danielson
Ronald Guttman
as Danny's Father
Jack Drummond
as Old Coot
Sig Libowitz
as Rav Singesser
Jacob Green
as Young Danny
Frank Winters
as Young Stuart
Peter Meadows
as Orthodox Student
Ebon Moss-Bachrach
as First Waiter
Lucille Patton
as Mrs. Frankel
John Martin
as Hate Counselor
Michael Marcus
as Polish Man
Sascha Knopf
as Cindy Pomerantz
Tibor Feldman
as Rabbi Greenwalt
Henry Bean
as Ilio Manzetti
Jordan Lage
as Roger Brand
Samantha Brody
as Rosh Hashana Attende...
Michael Port
as TV Reporter
Carl Fischer
as Guy's Photographer
Harvey Liberman
as Man at Yom Kippur
Eileen B. Weiss
as Woman at Yom Kippur
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Believer

Critic Reviews for The Believer

All Critics (91) | Top Critics (26)

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

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

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

The Believer Quotes

Curtis Zampf: The soul of this country is being destroyed, and the only thing the present government can offer us is free trade, mutual funds, and IPOs. The average man is crushed less by accumulated wealth, than lack of leadership, lack of community, culture, and a sense of emptiness he simply cannot fill on his own. That's why I'm a fascist.
– Submitted by Rick K (18 months ago)

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