The Believer (2001)

rob challengeThis weeks Challenge from Rob comes this film coming out just a couple of years after American History X. while Rob has has a good run of film choices I can’t help but think this could just be a speed bump in films I would enjoy.

logoDirector: Henry Bean

Writer: Henry Bean (Screenplay) Henry Bean, Mark Jacobson (Story)

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Garret Dillahunt, Kris Eivers, Joel Marsh Garland, Billy Zane, Theresa Russell, Summer Phoenix

Plot: A young Jewish man develops a fiercely anti-Semitic philosophy. Based on the factual story of a K.K.K. member in the 1960s who was revealed to be Jewish by a New York Times reporter.

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

Verdict: Slow and Confusing

Story: The Believer starts with Danny (Gosling) following before attacking a Jewish man for no apparent reason. When Danny finds the leader of another Neo Nazi movement run by Curtis Zampf (Zane) he tries to talk them into taking out the Jews as well as their normal targets. Danny takes a shine to Carla (Phoenix) at the meet which leads to her mother Lina (Russell) talking Curtis into letting him become part of the group.

What follows is Danny joining the K.K.K even though he is in fact Jewish himself. Danny wants to make an impact and along with his crew go onto cause the chaos in the world they see are wrong. Over time Danny starts to become conflicted with his decisions against the Jews.

The Believer is a film that starts heavily going towards our main character being Anti Semitic but in the end it just feels like he had a bad day and is against his parents. He bounces between being against them or for them the whole film. It doesn’t help that I just don’t like characters like our main character who decide violence against another belief is what is right. I would rather see another version of American History X because our main character motives were set and changed due to the consequences. (3/10)

Actor Review

Ryan Gosling: Danny Balint is the Jewish man who seems to have a grudge against all the Jews, he goes out to cause the troubles, he ends up rising through the ranks but he does keep his Jewish heritage hidden from the people he is preaching too. While I don’t like the story I can’t say a bad thing about Ryan’s performance which is great. (8/10)

Support Cast: The Believer has a supporting cast that seem to be part in every world Danny ends up in, it is hard to think of any of them being truly memorable.

Director Review: Henry BeanHenry struggles to keep the story together through the film with many parts of the film jumping around too much. (4/10)

Settings: The Believer doesn’t create many iconic settings for the film. (3/10)

Suggestion: The Believer is one to watch only if you have any interest in the subject matter otherwise it is easily a skip-able film. (Skip)

Best Part: Gosling’s Performance.

Worst Part: Story is very messy.

Believability: While it is meant to be about a true person I just don’t know what to believe in this. (NA/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No

Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $1.5 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

Overall: A confusing mess of a film save from complete mess by a heavyweight performance from Gosling.

Rating 30


  1. Good review. Honest. Too bad you didn’t like it more. This was the 1st time I noticed Ryan Gosling. What an amazing performance! For me, this was a movie about hating yourself. He battles his family’s religion to an extreme, but still can’t abandon his roots. It’s definitely a complex examination. This is a rare internal film about faith and disillusionment. Thanks for spotlighting an indie gem like this.

  2. sorry that u hated this one. I actually love it, but that may be because of the subject matter being close to my heart. Gosling is amazing here tho! 🙂

    BTW, love the new look here!

    • Thanks, you can see the star rising in Gosling,
      I don’t follow enough religion to understand some of this film, i didn’t understand if he was undercover, moody or just changed his mind though.

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