The Believer (2002)
Critic Consensus: Gosling commands the screen with a raw, electrifying performance.
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 he soon came to embrace through a mixture of anger over the tragic history of the Jewish people, bitterness over his experiences in Hebrew school, and a loathing of himself. Danny soon becomes a key member of a skinhead sect led by Curtis (Billy Zane) and Lina (Theresa Russell), but while Curtis and Lina believe that the desire for cultural assimilation by many American Jews will lead to their self-destruction, Danny advocates a more direct and violent approach in dealing with the "enemy." Danny gains the admiration of his fellow skinheads for his intelligence and commitment, and wins the affection of Carla (Summer Phoenix), a group member with severe masochistic tendencies. But in time Danny's beliefs begin to shift once again, just as the truth about his background becomes known to his comrades. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, The Believer was inspired by the true story of Daniel Burros, a member of the American Nazi Party who committed suicide in the 1960s when it was revealed by the press that he was born to a Jewish family. … More
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as Danny Balint
as Carla Moebius
as Lina Moebius
as Curtis Zampf
as Ancient Jew
as Guy Danielson
as Danny's Father
as Old Coot
as Rav Singesser
as Young Avi
as Young Danny
as Young Stuart
as Orthodox Student
as First Waiter
as Mrs. Frankel
as Hate Counselor
as Polish Man
as Cindy Pomerantz
as Rabbi Greenwalt
as Ilio Manzetti
as Roger Brand
as Rosh Hashana Attende...
as TV Reporter
as Guy's Photographer
as Man at Yom Kippur
as Woman at Yom Kippur
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Critic Reviews for The Believer
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.
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.
An important movie, a reminder of the power of film to move us and to make us examine our values.
[Gosling's] combination of explosive physical energy and convincing intelligence helps create a complex, unpredictable character.
Gosling's Danny is frighteningly believable, in his mad hatreds and when gradually confronting inner doubts.
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.
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).
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.
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.|
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