I"d heard about this film when it was doing the rounds at Sundance back in 2001, inspired by a true story "The Believer" focuses on Daniel Bailent; twenty-something Jewish Nazi skinhead, who joins a fascist group led by Billy Zane and Theresa Randle (both excellent, though Zane deserved more screen time). The film opened to rave reviews but was almost banned by some dubious, anti-defamation group who (wrongly, in my opinion) claimed it would foster anti-Semitism against Jews. They succeeded in limiting its cinematic release, much to the annoyance of first time director and well-known Jewish Hollywood writer, Harry Bean (who also makes an important cameo in his film as the politician Manzetti).
I"m an Ed Norton fan, and thought his performance in "American History X" was typically awesome, but Harry Bean"s debut is a far more sophisticated, and ultimately better, film about racism; for Daniel"s struggle is so heavily internalised, that it makes his subtle shifts from normal bloke to raving Nazi and back again, seem all the more believable. Ryan Gosling, unknown when this movie came out, is an absolute powerhouse who gives it his all in an intense, and extremely demanding role. A gritty, compelling picture that successfully avoids PC preaching or propagandising for fascists, "The Believer" is a welcome throwback to the 1970s heyday of challenging, American independent cinema.
At the end, when Daniels climbing up the endless flight of stairs in the afterlife, his old Torah teacher tells him: "There"s nothing up there" which makes it seem as if Daniel is in Hell. But this line refers to the earlier conversation about the unknowable nature of God, and how God is, in some ways, everything and nothing. So when his teacher says: "there"s nothing up there" it signifies Daniel"s imminent redemption and the fact that he"s about to square his account with God.
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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 or region free DVD player in order to play Raised Jewish Danny (Ryan Gosling) now runs with an anti-Semitic skinhead gang in Queens Attending a meeting held by prominent self-proclaimed fascist Curtis Zampf (Billy Zane) Danny is noticed when he proposes killing Jews as a solution to society&39;s problems Danny&39;s words create excitement not only for their racist content but also for his articulate way of expressing himself and his knowledge of the Jewish faith Zampf sees potential in Danny and takes him under his wing Working with the enigmatic extremist Danny meets the sadomasochistic Carla (Summer Phoenix) Between rough sexual encounters Danny teaches Carla Hebrew and facts about Judaism Carla becomes interested in the Jewish faith while Danny becomes disillusioned with his neo-Nazi lifestyle finding it as hypocritical as he found Judaism to be Haunted by his past and questioning his own beliefs Danny finds himself a prime suspect in the assassination of a respected Jewish figure Writer-director Henry Bean scored a success with this American independent focusing more on faith than hatred THE BELIEVER won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for Best Screenplay and Best First Feature at the 2002 Independent Spirit Awards Actors Ryan Gosling Summer Phoenix Theresa Russell Billy Zane Glenn Fitzgerald Garret Dillahunt Kris Eivers Joel Garland Joshua Harto Tommy Nohilly & Chuck Ardezzone Director Henry Bean Certificate 15 years and over Year 2001 Screen Widescreen 2351 Anamorphic Languages English - Dolby Digital (20) Stereo Duration 1 hour and 38 minutes (approx)
Danny Balint (Ryan Gosling) is a Jewish New Yorker who grew up speaking Hebrew and studying the Torah, but who has now become a neo-fascist skinhead. Meeting with Nazi agitators Curtis Zampf (Billy Zane) and Lina Moebius (Theresa Russell), Danny agrees to help assassinate a Jewish financier, and is soon involved in shootings and synagogue bombings. However, when Danny begins an affair with Moebius' daughter (Summer Phoenix), and she becomes fascinated by his Jewish heritage, Danny's confused ideas of the world begins to change.