The Believer

2001

Drama

58
IMDb Rating 7.2 10 34,433

Synopsis


Downloaded 16,463 times
July 22, 2019

Director

Cast

Billy Zane as Curtis Zampf
Garret Dillahunt as Harold Dixon
Ryan Gosling as Danny Balint
Tovah Feldshuh as Woman in Shul at Rosh Hashannah
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
831.51 MB
1280*720
English
R
23.976 fps
98 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.57 GB
1920×1080
English
R
23.976 fps
98 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by kylopod 9 / 10 / 10

The fine line between love and hate

"The Believer" contains rare insights into Jewish identity, and it's a shame that the film was withheld from mainstream audiences due to ongoing controversy. But it deals with an ugly subject, and it handles that subject in an ambiguous way that makes many people, including many Jews, uncomfortable. Make no mistake about it, though: the film is uncompromisingly pro-Jewish, and the director, himself a Jew, has said that he became more religious because of his work on the film. Ironically, the film is likely to resonate the most with Jews, though it also contains universal themes familiar to anyone who has ever struggled with faith. The idea of a white supremacist who's secretly Jewish is not new to me. I've long known about Frank Collin, who caused a national controversy in the 1970s when he planned to have his neo-Nazi group march in a predominantly Jewish suburb of Skokie, Illinois. It was later discovered that Collin's father was not only Jewish but a Holocaust survivor. This case is so bizarre that it leads one to assume the guy was simply insane. While there may be some truth to that assumption, it isn't a satisfactory explanation. What would possibly lead a Jew to join a group that believes in the inherent evil of all Jews? What is such a person thinking? How does such a person live with himself, rationalize his own actions? What "The Believer" accomplishes is to go inside the head of one such person and provide a compelling, believable explanation for how such a person could exist. The film is based loosely on a 1960s incident in which a high-ranking member of the KKK was discovered to be Jewish. The movie updates the story to modern times and depicts the young man, Danny, as a skinhead rather than a Klansman. His characterization is speculative but reveals a deep understanding of human nature. What's truly bizarre about this story is that Danny never abandons his Jewish roots entirely. After attending a neo-fascist meeting, he goes home to his family, whom he treats with respect. He even performs Jewish rituals in private. Yet he terrorizes a Jewish kid on the subway, tells his neo-Nazi buddies that he wants to assassinate a prominent Jewish diplomat, and spouts what sounds on the surface like typical white supremacist ideology. But he's not, as we might suspect, a hypocrite saying things he doesn't believe, or a two-faced lunatic. His philosophy is surprisingly coherent. Sure, he's a walking contradiction, but so are many other people who have a love-hate relationship with their religious background. His anti-Semitic beliefs all revolve around a single idea: he thinks Jews are too weak and passive. Sometimes he adopts a macho outlook, since he doesn't want to be associated with a people stereotyped as brainy intellectuals. On a deeper level, he dislikes the persecution theme in Jewish history and culture. But is this theme a sign of weakness or strength? Danny isn't sure. He eventually decides that Jews gain strength from their persecution; they seem to grow stronger the worse they're treated, and the biggest threat to their survival is not those who want to destroy them but those who don't care. This is a far more Jewish idea than an anti-Semitic one. Several Jewish holidays, including Passover, Purim, and Chanukah, commemorate events where Jews grew strong after periods of persecution. Many Jews today believe that assimilation into the culture is a greater danger than genocide, because it could signal the disappearance of Jews as a distinct people. As Irving Kristol once remarked, "The problem is that they don't want to persecute us, they want to marry us." The implication is that Danny actually admires Judaism, and that his anti-Semitism is his own warped way of affirming his Jewish identity in a world where, he fears, Jews are increasingly seen as irrelevant--not loved or hated but simply ignored. His ambivalent feelings escalate as the movie progresses. When he has his neo-Nazi buddies deface a synagogue, he can't bring himself to damage the Torah scroll, and he secretly takes it home with him. His intimate knowledge of Jewish beliefs and practices looks strange to his fellow skinheads, to say the least. He tells them that he studies these things in order to know the enemy, pointing out that Eichmann did the same thing. Do they buy this explanation? Apparently they do, but Danny's girlfriend is a little smarter than that, and she finds herself strangely drawn to the religion he's running away from. Like "American History X," this movie contains disturbing scenes where the protagonist articulately expresses his bigoted ideas. There are other intelligent characters who argue back, but not everything he spouts gets answered, so I can understand why this movie makes some viewers uncomfortable. In one particularly distasteful scene, Danny mocks Holocaust survivors, and while they do answer him eloquently for the most part, his raising of the old "sheep to the slaughter" canard is left open. Nevertheless, this a powerful and compelling film, with a lead performance by Ryan Gosling that manages to rival Ed Norton's Oscar-nominated performance in "American History X." We see early on that Danny is capable of doing appalling things, but his moral conflicts are then presented so persuasively that we cannot help but empathize with him. The climax is painfully ambiguous. Those who are looking for easy answers may want to skip this film. But they will be missing out on what is easily the most authentic and profound exploration of Jewish self-hatred ever portrayed on screen.

Reviewed by hund2110 9 / 10 / 10

Intelligent and Provocative

I found myself alone in an small theater yesterday watching "The Believer". The absence of a crowd didn't have any impact what so ever on my experience with this film. Daniel Balint is a promising new right wing extremist who, with his radical ideas and eloquence, wins over the minds of a small group of neo-Nazis. At first he expresses that he wants Jews dead because, as he states, anti-semitism is a human instinct. But Daniel is a Jew himself. He denies his roots, But as the movie progresses he must come to terms with who he is. And that's not always easy. Ryan Gosling who plays Daniel is a frightening good actor, who almost manages to persuade the audience of his anti-semitic views. I really can't praise Ryan Gosling enough! He could be one of the great new actors to come. The interesting aspect of this movie is the mental struggle in Daniels mind whether he's a Nazi or a Jew. Or both? It's about finding out who you are. The films poses some very intelligent questions, and provokes at times, and this is the films force. This movie is brilliant! Go see it!

Reviewed by dromasca 9 / 10 / 10

a strong story about self-hating

I am amazed how little this impact this film has made. It looks like its distribution around 2001/9/11 events and the fact that some American Jewish circles feared that it can be mis-interpreted led to a limited distribution. However, the directing of Henry Bean, the acting of Ryan Gosling, and the strong treatment of a difficult subject should have led to more respect than this movie received. 'The Believer' is the story of a young Jewish boy in today's America. Raised in a religious environment he is asking questions that are not unusual for a young Jewish person two or three generations after the Holocaut. Where was God during the Holocaust, and why did the Jewish people did so little to resist their oppressors? He is obviously giving the wrong answers, and not only loses his faith, but falls into the trap of self-hate, becoming a neo-Nazi and a Jew-hater, a self-hater in other words. There are many things that can be said and discussed around this theme. The character may seem paradoxical, but it is not impossible. The fact that the story is loosely inspired by a true character is not that relevant, what is important is that we can believe the motivations of the character and understand his evolution. Certainly a film to watch and think about.

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