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Believer
Believer
Actors: Ryan Gosling, Summer Phoenix, Peter Meadows, Garret Dillahunt, Kris Eivers
Director: Henry Bean
Genres: Drama
R     2003     1hr 42min

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and one of the most acclaimed independent films of recent years, The Believer is a daring and courageous portrayal of a young Jewish man living an impossible co...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Ryan Gosling, Summer Phoenix, Peter Meadows, Garret Dillahunt, Kris Eivers
Director: Henry Bean
Creators: Henry Bean, Adam Haight, Christopher Roberts, Daniel Diamond, Eric Sandys, Jay Firestone, Mark Jacobson
Genres: Drama
Sub-Genres: Drama
Studio: Lions Gate
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 04/22/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/2002
Theatrical Release Date: 00/00/2002
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 42min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, Hebrew

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Movie Reviews

Excellent and a half
Bill Your 'Free Form FM Handi Cyber | Mahwah, NJ USA | 11/30/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"A Jewish Nazi.

That is a great way to summerize this film, and not only because that is the premice of the Beleiver. What the film is really about is a highly intelligent yet tourmented young man named Danny.

Danny grew up in the othordox faith but was always questioning the tenants of his inhairited beleif system. Flashbacks in the film show him questioning his teachers and rabbis. Danny had an incicive and critital mind: he was humilatiated by those he questioned. This was the real crime--Danny was so smart, he would truely have been a great individual if those abilities were nurtured and not squashed.

But they were squashed, and Danny is not such a great individual. For whatever reason, he has all the hate of the far less bright neo-nazis he hangs with. He engages in the brutalaty too, such as beating up an Hasidic boy and trashing a synogage.

The film is great in that it makes you work to understand Danny's thinking process and the conclusions he has come to about Judism. These are not told in cleches, but in detailed, complex logic highly individual to Danny/ You have to get on his level of intellagance to understand why he is so collosully screwed up, and it is rare to and refreshing to find a film that makes these kind of intellectual demands on you.

Yet you cannot help feel sorry for Danny. What kind of rage and self hate drives a smart young man to this point. What works about the Beleiver is that deep down, we know Danny understands he is wrong. But his humilliation and sense of powerlessness dominate him.

This is cruelly magnified when he is invited to a girls apartment in the middle of the night, and she purposely lets him see her having sex with another guy. Look at the expression Danny gives. He is actually increadibly sad, hurt and vulnerable.

Brilliant film with a unique premice.

"
A profound cinematic statement about the nature of spiritual
John Morgan | Ann Arbor, Michigan | 11/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

""The Believer" is not a film about neo-Nazism, although it does make some valid points about the ultimately religious nature of the rituals and philosophy of National Socialism (what some have termed "esoteric Hitlerism"), as well as the inconsistencies of anti-Semitic ideology (i.e., anti-Semites claim to hate Jews both because they're weak, yet at the same time because their influence on the world is so strong). It is a bit more about Judaism, evoking some of the mysteries which lie at the heart of its theology, but the film's ultimate point goes far beyond the nature of any specific religion. As the title suggests, this film is about the nature of belief, and the particular problems that those of us who live in the modern world face if we choose to become believers in any form of spirituality. The contradiction that this entails is that, in the modern world, people are often tempted by the power of spirituality, but because most of us are weaned on the idea that the sovereign individual should be at the center of everything, we find it difficult to make the act of complete surrender of our freedom to something exterior to ourselves - God - that, like Danny, the main character of this film, we seek God, but are unable to open ourselves to the relationship which would enable us to see Him. In "The Believer," Danny is at first entranced by his inherited Judaism, but then, frustrated by what he sees as the unjust nature of the Hebrew God, tries to become a hardcore neo-Nazi. However, Danny's inability to acknowledge that there is anything superior to him - God, or anything else - remains, and he is never able to fully commit himself to either belief. Over the course of the film, Danny begins to mix the two beliefs, weaving and trapping himself within the web of an increasingly bizarre and dangerous ideology which fails to resolve the dissatisfaction that he experiences. In our age of designer religions, in which people often select parts from many different belief systems in order to fashion something which is "right for them," this act of syncretism allows them to leave out the most important aspect, surrender, which is essential to reaping the benefits of any genuine system of beliefs. The modern West has, for the most part, forgotten this fact, which is why Americans gawk in horror at the sight of Muslim women who wear headscarves, unable to understand their motivation, and why many Christians forego the genuine teachings of the Bible in favor of believing that Jesus wants them to be rich and that low taxes are a divine right. Yet, as for Danny, the hunger for belief does not go away - it is merely sublimated, often in extremely self-destructive forms.

If you are a secular-minded person, then this film will seem like a nightmare to you - the story of a young man who is incapable of reconciling his idealism with the real world, and as such is condemned to a life of perpetual frustration, anger and fear. If you are a religiously-minded person, then you will see it as a warning against the dangers of belief without humility. Either way, you will not be able to watch it and remain unmoved.
"
Disturbingly brilliant and intensely thought-provoking
AIROLF | USA | 05/10/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Powerful and poignant, this movie's intensity makes it hard to watch this film and even harder to turn away. Ryan Gosling is unbelievably effective as a man who hates his weaknesses so much that he turns his hate outward towards the hate of his nation and his religion. This Sundance Festival Jury Prize-winning film is a discussion of what makes us hate and love things within and outside of ourselves, a commentary on our strengths and weakness, and a byline of what can turn hate into love."