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The Believer

August 24, 2010

The Believer (2001)
Director: Henry Bean
Actors: Ryan Gosling, Summer Phoenix, Theresa Russell

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Synopsis: Daniel Balint (Ryan Gosling) is a rising star of the political right-wing with his articulate, anti-Semitic views. But he harbours a deep secret about his true origin….

Review: What a brilliant and compelling study this is of a fascist caught in a self-destructive inner-discourse over his relationship with Judaism and the ‘Jewish condition’ in general. The film at times feels ever-so-slightly academic with its high concept character dialectic of a neo-Nazi, self-hating Jew (even though it’s based on a true story) and a schematic scattering of convenient plot devices (his conscience is pricked by the recollections of a Holocaust survivor and the vandalising of the Torah by his thuggish associates). Despite these contrivances, The Believer never fails in being any less than a thoroughly thought-provoking dissection of an articulate but angry young man (brilliantly essayed by Ryan Gosling) deconstructing his received religious and social dogma, as well as a fascinating insight into the ways that virulent, anti-Semitic rhetoric would be exploited and ‘repackaged’ by an aspiring contemporary right wing intelligentsia. (March 2007)

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