The Believer 2001

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(21) IMDb 7.3/10
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The story of Danny Balint, who transformed himself from Jewish religious student to a rising star in the Neo-Fascist political movement. In a surprising series of twists and turns, Danny exhibits all the passion of the converted as he browses militia-movement web sites, utters hate-filled but articulate discourses on Judaism and its teachings, and promotes its ultimate destruction. At a neo-fascist organizing meeting at the home of Lina Moebius 22-year-old Danny impresses people with his articulate violence, especially Lina's bright and complicated daughter, Carla, who is more interested in Danny's mind and passion then in her mother's politics. When his own suppressed identity seems likely to be revealed, he flees to an upstate training enclave, further galvanizing his desire to act out the vicious vilification subscribed to by him and his compatriots. But as events ensue and striking contradictions multiply, something in Danny's soul prompts a complex and incredible resolution.

Starring:
Summer Phoenix, Glenn Fitzgerald
Rental Formats:
DVD

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature ages_15_and_over
Runtime 1 hour 38 minutes
Starring Summer Phoenix, Glenn Fitzgerald, Theresa Russell, Ryan Gosling, Billy Zane
Director Henry Bean
Genres Drama
Studio PATHE DISTRIBUTION
Rental release 3 June 2002
Main languages English
Hearing impaired subtitles English

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lila on 14 Nov 2007
Format: DVD
I had seen the Believer at the cinema, and have recently seen it again in DVD. This movie had left a strong impression on me, and the feeling has been confirmed after watching it again.
It is the story (inspired by the true story of a certain Daniel Burros) of a young Neo-Nazi Jew taken in the net of contradictions between his religion/roots and his antisemitic ideology, between the quest for meaning and self-hatred. One might have feared clichés and simplistic psychology, but none of these in that movie. The actor (whose performance some newspapers rightly compared to De Niro's in Taxi Driver) perfectly incarnates this young man undergoing a metaphysicial crisis -- a rebel rejecting his roots and religion, but prisioner, despite himself, of his own identity, which will constantly catch him up.
Metaphysical questioning and very interesting reflexions on judaism makes this movie powerful, thought-provoking and excellent (careful though : several violent scenes).
The non-manicheistic, quite existentialist end brings more questions than answers and illustrates the inner questioning and complex / yet coherent psychology of Daniel, the protagonist.

In short, an intense and powerful movie, that I strongly recommend. Let me quote the words of Mr Maurice Samuel (a Jewish author) which echo Daniel's own questioning and self-destructive behaviour :

". . . we Jews,
the destroyers, will remain the destroyer forever. . . nothing that the
Gentiles will do will meet our needs and demands".

When it was released, the Believer didn't find a film distributor in USA, and remained confidential there -- given the anti-Hollywood treatment of the subject, this is no surprise. Yet the film was released in various European countries and Israel as well. It won the Grand Jury Prize in Sundance Festival in 2001.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Haschka HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Oct 2003
Format: DVD
Towards the end of THE BELIEVER, I mused on the similarity of the film to the 1975 screen production of THE MAN IN THE GLASS BOOTH starring Maximilian Schell. In the latter, Schell stars as a reclusive, wealthy, Jewish, Manhattan industrialist, Arthur Goldman, who (apparently) has used his connections and financial resources to create the fiction that he's a former Nazi prison commandant, a fabrication (apparently) leaked to the Israelis. Without knowing this beforehand, It comes as a surprise to the viewers and Goldman's associates, but not to Arthur himself, when he's kidnapped (as was Adolf Eichmann) and removed to Israel to stand trial as a war criminal - on display in a glass booth wearing full Nazi regalia. Schell is stunningly powerful as the concentration camp survivor who goes to extremes to exorcise his personal guilt at having outlived the Holocaust, and what he sees as the collective guilt of his people for not fighting back.
In THE BELIEVER, Ryan Gosling is Danny, an incredibly intelligent, literate and articulate 22-year old who spends his days as a neo-Nazi skinhead preaching hatred and expressing the desire to kill Jews. His activities run the full gamut from planting bombs with a group of like-minded, mindless thugs, to fund raising in a suit and tie for an upscale Fascist organization. The thing is, you see, Danny is himself a Jew with deep emotional ties to his heritage.
It's perhaps an over-simplification to say that Danny hates Jews. Rather, he hates the message that Orthodox Jews preach, i.e. that Jews are but the pawns of God and must be submissive to His will - even to the point of abject pacifism in the face of the most extreme persecution. Danny is not, nor has ever been, submissive to his religion and its appointed teachers.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Spider Monkey HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 4 Jun 2006
Format: DVD
Although graphic to watch in places this film is highly deserving of any praise it receives. It deals with a controversial subject remarkably well and with real power. It also comes at it from a new angle, that of the Jewish Nazi, which gives it that extra edginess. I have rarely seen a film that left me thinking of it's issues so long and recommending it to so many people.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 500 REVIEWER on 15 April 2014
Format: DVD
'The Believer' is an acclaimed independent movie, and Ryan Gosling's first big acting role on the silver screen. He stars as a self hating Jewish man who has developed a cruel view on the world he lives in. It was an impressive first lead in film, and Ryan excels at playing the articulate skin head with anti-semitic views. The passion he displays for someone so young is quite extraordinary. but alas 'The Believer' is one of his least appealing movies.

I thought that the story was mediocre, and failed to leave behind any explanation in order to help the audience understand the self struggle of the central character and why he is like he is. Although it is based on a true story, I found a lot of it to be rather unbelievable. Racism is always a difficult subject to tackle, and the movie centers almost entirely around Ryan's character and the people he associates with. He becomes involved with various groups who only fuel the anger and hatred between each other more, and mainly towards the Jews.

'The Believer' serves as little more than a reminder of Ryan Gosling's early acting ability, and it was performances like this which paved the way for a high profile career in Hollywood, but far better things were to come. One for Ryan Gosling fans only - he made the film watchable.
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