THE BELIEVER Add To My Top 10

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Release Date: May 17, 2002

Starring: Ryan Gosling., Billy Zane and Theresa Russell

Genre: Drama

Audience: Older teenagers and
adults REVIEWER: Katherine
Makinney THE BELIEVER is the
directing debut of Henry Bean,
a successful screenwriter
who's written ENEMY OF THE
STATE, DEEP COVER and INTERNAL
AFFAIRS, among other big
Hollywood movies. While it's
about a fascinating character,
made mesmerizing by the superb
performance of Ryan Gosling,
the movie falters in its
exploration of this complex
psyche. Based on the true
story of a Ku Klux Klan
demonstrator who was unmasked
as a Jew and then committed
suicide, THE BELIEVER explores
the world of Daniel Balint.
Danny (Gosling) is a neo-Nazi
skinhead who pummels a poor
Jewish student in the opening
scene and taunts him in
Hebrew! The audience quickly
realizes this is no standard
uneducated venom-filled
skinhead, but a well educated,
intelligent . . . Jew. What
makes Danny hate his race and
where that hatred takes him is
the story this movie tries to
tell. THE BELIEVER is hard to
watch, because it is filled
with both the rhetoric and the
actions of someone driven by
hatred. It argues that Danny
was a brilliant but difficult
yeshiva student who found the
portrait of God in the old
Testament to be that of a
bully. He argues his case so
well, that he's kicked out of
yeshiva. Instead of becoming a
hardened atheist as most
embittered students of
religion do, Danny becomes
enraged at the impotence of
his own race. As punishment
for one of his many
anti-Semitic outbursts, Danny
is forced to sit and listen to
the stories of Holocaust
survivors. Instead of being
softened or disbelieving, as
are his compatriots, Danny
becomes angry. "Why? Why did
you sit there and do nothing
while your son was being
killed?" Danny spits out at a
poor old man. Danny becomes
involved with a fascist
organization run by a couple
(Theresa Russell and Billy
Zane) who want to use him to
raise funds and the profile of
their organization, but
Danny's too unpredictable and
angry. He becomes involved
with their daughter Carla
(Summer Phoenix), who's about
as unstable as he is. She asks
him to hit her before they go
to bed and runs to kiss him
after he's vomited. Danny is
truly of two minds. He becomes
protective of the Torah as he
and some of his thugs
desecrate a Temple. He teaches
his girlfriend Hebrew while
planning to kill his first
Jew. Danny's bizarre logic and
irrationality are made to
sizzle by the fine performance
of Gosling, and even the
grainy, digital, handheld
cinematography. Viewers,
however, are left confused.
Why does he tape the Torah
back together secretly in his
apartment and discuss the
Jewish life with reverence,
that even his girlfriend
observes "only a Jew is so
obsessed," but, all the while
he wants to destroy the Jewish
race? The argument that Bean
proffers, that Danny hates the
way the Jewish people accepts
their own victimization,
doesn't explain why he wants
to victimize them again. The
script doesn't fully explain
it. The movie moves from
searing scene to searing scene
without fully developing or
explaining this character. The
ending comes without
foreshadowing and adds to the
feeling of disconnection. The
film feels episodic, and isn't
cohesive. When a movie offers
a confusing portrait or
doesn't have much to say,
sometimes the journey is
enjoyable anyway, but, given
the stomach churning violence,
hate-filled invective, and
immorality in THE BELIEVER,
you may want to pass on this
one. Please address your
comments to: Daniel Diamond,
President Fireworks
Pictures 421 South Beverly
Drive Beverly Hills, CA
90212 Phone: (310)
854-2429 Fax: (310)
854-2436 Website:
www.watchfireworks.com Email:
info@fireworkspix.com

Rating: R

Runtime: 100 minutes

Address Comments To:

Content:

(H, AbAb, B, LL, VV, SS, NN, A, MM) Humanist worldview of a conflicted self-hating Jew, who joins a neo-Nazi group, with references to Judaism; 10 obscenities and vomiting; one scene of man kicking another man, one scene of two men fighting, and one scene of man being shot; implied and depicted fornication, including incest of naked woman with her stepfather; alcohol use; no smoking; and, hatred, vandalism and desecration of a religious building.

GENRE: Drama

H

AbAb

B

LL

VV

SS

NN

A

MM

Summary:

THE BELIEVER explores the world of Daniel Balint, a neo-Nazi skinhead who happens to be Jewish. THE BELIEVER moves from searing scene to searing scene without fully developing or explaining this character and contains hate-filled invective and sexual immorality.

Review:

THE BELIEVER is the directing debut of Henry Bean, a successful screenwriter who's written ENEMY OF THE STATE, DEEP COVER and INTERNAL AFFAIRS, among other big Hollywood movies. While it's about a fascinating character, made mesmerizing by the superb performance of Ryan Gosling, the movie falters in its exploration of this complex psyche.

Based on the true story of a Ku Klux Klan demonstrator who was unmasked as a Jew and then committed suicide, THE BELIEVER explores the world of Daniel Balint. Danny (Gosling) is a neo-Nazi skinhead who pummels a poor Jewish student in the opening scene and taunts him in Hebrew! The audience quickly realizes this is no standard uneducated venom-filled skinhead, but a well educated, intelligent . . . Jew. What makes Danny hate his race and where that hatred takes him is the story this movie tries to tell.

THE BELIEVER is hard to watch, because it is filled with both the rhetoric and the actions of someone driven by hatred. It argues that Danny was a brilliant but difficult yeshiva student who found the portrait of God in the old Testament to be that of a bully. He argues his case so well, that he's kicked out of yeshiva. Instead of becoming a hardened atheist as most embittered students of religion do, Danny becomes enraged at the impotence of his own race. As punishment for one of his many anti-Semitic outbursts, Danny is forced to sit and listen to the stories of Holocaust survivors. Instead of being softened or disbelieving, as are his compatriots, Danny becomes angry. "Why? Why did you sit there and do nothing while your son was being killed?" Danny spits out at a poor old man.

Danny becomes involved with a fascist organization run by a couple (Theresa Russell and Billy Zane) who want to use him to raise funds and the profile of their organization, but Danny's too unpredictable and angry. He becomes involved with their daughter Carla (Summer Phoenix), who's about as unstable as he is. She asks him to hit her before they go to bed and runs to kiss him after he's vomited.

Danny is truly of two minds. He becomes protective of the Torah as he and some of his thugs desecrate a Temple. He teaches his girlfriend Hebrew while planning to kill his first Jew. Danny's bizarre logic and irrationality are made to sizzle by the fine performance of Gosling, and even the grainy, digital, handheld cinematography. Viewers, however, are left confused. Why does he tape the Torah back together secretly in his apartment and discuss the Jewish life with reverence, that even his girlfriend observes "only a Jew is so obsessed," but, all the while he wants to destroy the Jewish race?

The argument that Bean proffers, that Danny hates the way the Jewish people accepts their own victimization, doesn't explain why he wants to victimize them again. The script doesn't fully explain it. The movie moves from searing scene to searing scene without fully developing or explaining this character. The ending comes without foreshadowing and adds to the feeling of disconnection. The film feels episodic, and isn't cohesive.

When a movie offers a confusing portrait or doesn't have much to say, sometimes the journey is enjoyable anyway, but, given the stomach churning violence, hate-filled invective, and immorality in THE BELIEVER, you may want to pass on this one.

Please address your comments to:

Daniel Diamond, President

Fireworks Pictures

421 South Beverly Drive

Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Phone: (310) 854-2429

Fax: (310) 854-2436

Website: www.watchfireworks.com

Email: info@fireworkspix.com

SUMMARY: THE BELIEVER explores the world of Daniel Balint, a neo-Nazi skinhead who happens to be Jewish. THE BELIEVER moves from searing scene to searing scene without fully developing or explaining this character and contains hate-filled invective and sexual immorality.

In Brief: