Old 05-04-2003, 12:29 AM
The Believer(2001)

The Believer

Ryan Gosling as Danny Balint
Summer Phoenix as Carla Moebius
Theresa Russel as Lena Moebius
Billy Zane as Curtis Zampf

Directed By:
Henry Bean

Written By:
Henry Bean

I saw this film on the shelf at video store and picked it up out of curiosity. I read what it was it about and decided that I might as well give it a try, since I loved American History X, I thought this might be another great commentary on racism in America. I got everything I was hoping for in this film and more.

There are many themes running through this film. One of the major themes of course is racism. Danny is a young man who is very hatefilled and very confused about himself. He is a neo-nazi who stands by the idea of killing Jews and anti-Semitism. He is taken in by a small nazi group and is expected to become their poster boy because of his innate speaking skills and ability to persuade. His idea is that anti-Semitism is a fact of human nature, and that deep down everybody hates Jews whether they wish to accept it or not, as he says, "you can say it a million times, but Jew is the only that never loses it's meaning". But, his conflict comes from the fact that he is a Jew himself. This is where his confusion begins. He himself cannot accept the idea of Judaism and the idea of following the Torrah, so he turns to anti-semetism in order to express his feelings about his own people. In flashbacks to when he was in a Jewish school you are shown his own questioning of the Jewish faith and even the exsistence of God. This movie is really and truely about Danny's struggle to discover his own self and find out who he really is.

Danny shows us throughout the film that he is struggling with his own acceptance of his Judaism. He shows great respect for his own heritage and the rules of Judaism. But, he plays these actions off as knowing his enemy. This calls to attention that Danny's real own enemy is himself. He cannot accept his own fate and is in constant battle with himself about his faith and about whether or not he should accept them. Danny is essentially taking his hatred for himself and his hatred for the idea of God having absolute power and control over him out on his own people. I believe that this plays to the fact racism is based on peoples' own insecurities. Racism can also based on the fact that people hate what they don't understand, which is shown by Danny's idiotic skinhead friends. But Danny understands what he hates, he almost embraces what he hates, but because of his own insecurities he feels the need to destroy it. So, in all we are shown an amazing spectrum of emotions and ideas about racism and about anti-semitism, most of them coming singularly from Danny. This is where this film geniunly shines, in it's ability to show us what really shapes the ideas and the thoughts of Danny, and what he is going through.

When it comes to acting in this film, only one of the actors really made an impression on me, though everybody else did good, Ryan Gosling was absolutely superb. He is obviously a very very talented young man. He portrays Danny with great precision and great eloquence. He shows us the emotions of this troubled young man and he even makes us feel sympathy for him despite his radical views. He shows that this person is still a human being who still has doubts and who still has feelings. Ryan Gosling should be showing us great things to come.

Overall this was a great film. The direction and the script were both excellent and are some of the best that I've seen from 2001. Henry Bean should be making more films after what he has shown here. This is definitely one of the best films to come out 2001, and will be going on my top 10 list for sure.

10/10 or **** out of ****

Last edited by SubMethod; 05-04-2003 at 12:46 AM..
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Old 05-04-2003, 04:18 AM
After watching the film I gave it 8/10. But the more I thought about it, the less impressed I was. In the end, I think it deals with it's issues on a rather surface level. I didn't get a real, logical understanding of the main character and his motivations.

The problem wasn't that I didn't understand, the problem was that the script told about the issues the screenwriter didn't really understand. I would be very suprised to hear that he wrote about his own life experiences. In fact, I seriously doubt it. The film looked at it's subject from a distance, with no real understanding.

Sorry for not going more into depth, it's been some time since I've seen the film and I don't remember my arguments so clearly anymore.

I might write down more after I have thought about it a bit more. Of course, I *have* to write more to justify my argument. See ya later...

Anyway, it's was still a well made film and Ryan Gosling was amazing.

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