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The Believer (2001)

R  |   |  Drama  |  23 August 2001 (Russia)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 28,792 users   Metascore: 75/100
Reviews: 156 user | 84 critic | 28 from

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.



(screenplay), (story), 1 more credit »
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6 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Meadows ...
O.L. (as Joel Garland)
Lina Moebius
Jack Drummond ...
Old Coot
Sig Libowitz ...
Rav Zingesser
James McCaffrey ...
Young Avi (as James G. McCaffrey)
Jacob Green ...
Frank Winters ...
Young Stuart
Danny's Father


"The Believer" explores a Jewish student's private journey to understand the meaning of Judaism in his life. Set in New York City, the Plot follows a morally confused young adult struggling with the conflict between his beliefs and his heritage. "The Believer" examines themes of religion, family, and self-loathing. It is a psychological examination into the forces of intolerance, both on the individual and society as a whole. Written by Joe Bloggs

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, language and some sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

23 August 2001 (Russia)  »

Also Known As:

Danny Balint  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$1,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$26,236 (USA) (17 May 2002)


$406,035 (USA) (27 September 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Critically acclaimed, grand-jury prize winner at Sundance Festival in January 2001, then appeared on Showtime pay-cable in March 2002, before finally being released theatrically in NYC, May 2002. See more »


In the final synagogue segment, while the congregation is singing "Aveenu Malchenu," they keep changing keys from shot to shot, up a half-step and down a half-step and back up again again, indicating a string of takes edited together. See more »


Daniel Balint: You wanna know the real reason why we hate them? Because they exist. We have all the reasons we need in three simple letters. J-E-W... Jew! You say it a million times, it's the one word that never loses its meaning.
See more »


Featured in A Conversation with... Director Henry Bean (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

This movie didn't make sense
1 May 2003 | by (NY, NY) – See all my reviews

I was really disappointed with this movie. It just DOES NOT make sense. I cannot believe all the 5 star reviewers. Does basic storytelling matter to you people? OK, where to begin......

Gosling's Danny Bolint is a militantly self-hating Jew. Why? Not sure really. Through use of some clumsily overdramatic flashbacks, we learn that Danny enraged his Hebrew School teachers by challenging long accepted laws of Judaism. OK, fine. So Danny learns some untraditional teachings from his father. How that evolves into violent hatred for his own religion is anyone's guess.

Well, as another reviewer wrote with the title, "You better believe this movie deserves 5 stars" explains:

"Soon thereafter we learn that Danny himself was a yeshiva student. He's a Jew who has become a Nazi skinhead."

EXACTLY! Hey buddy, how do we go from point A to point B here? So his father teaches him some non-traditional interpretations of the Torah and suddenly he's some violent hard-core Jewish Nazi? Huh? I think we need A LITTLE more than that people! Another reviewer stated that "you could tear any movie apart if you wanted to." Perhaps that is true. BUT this is a FUNDAMENTAL part of this movie! Its a fascinating concept that deserves a reasonable explanation. This movie fails miserably on this crucial point, that alone should keep it from 5 stars, but of course, there is much more:

OK, so after going into a synagogue, this violent Nazi who has no qualms about beating up Jewish kids, setting up bombs in synagogoes to kill dozens of Jews, has the uncontrollable urge to protect the Torah from his friends and other religous properties? Not just that, but he reveals his immense knowledge of Judaism in front all his fellow Nazis and gives them obvious hints that he's Jewish, for no apparent reason, throughout the film (ex. wearing a Hebrew cloth inside his shirt, keeping and protecting objects from the synagogue, goes to a Temple, says a Jewish prayer in his room and in front of fellow Nazis, teaching his bizarre girlfriend Hebrew. Why does she want to learn it? Don't ask me). Even though he says to the reporter that he would KILL HIMSELF if it was ever found out he was Jewish he gives these obvious clues throughout the film.

When Danny was with his friend attempting to shoot at a Jewish couple, he finds he can't/won't do it, and then his Hebrew cloth is revealed to his friend who realizes he's Jewish. Danny then shoots at him and leaves the area........OK.....Soooo what happens to his friend? Is he dead? Is he injured? Does he survive to tell anyone? The character completely dissapears and we never hear what happened to him. Once again, thats amateurish storytelling at best, dissapearing characters is not a minor detail. Jeez, I would get upset if this happened at a local high school play, let alone an award-winner that I'm paying money for!

Another unexplained event in the film is perhaps the best part: during the resensitivity seminar when Danny and his friends hear stories from Holocaust survivers. Danny offends the speakers and walks out prematurely even though the instructor warns him that he will be resentenced if he leaves. what happens next? Does he go back to court? Is he sentenced to jail? Is he fined? Is he a fugitive? Better ask the 5 star reviewers, the fanatics in this website all these questions, because after watching the movie I can provide you with none.

Keep in mind, I'm ignoring the emotionless and puzzling girlfriend played by Phoenix, Is she a Fascist? What are her politics? Why does she like Danny? Why does she like to get physically hit by Danny? Why Danny showed no anger/emotion at Phoenix or Zane when he saw them making love, the make out scene the day after , right when Danny just threw up, what exactly makes Danny so incredibly valuable to Zane and the fascists, Zane's laughable hairpiece, etc etc etc. Point is, I was willing to accept ALL that as being "minor", however I cannot accept the HUGE holes in the script. Basic points like why he's a Jewish Nazi, what turned this violent person around so dramatically, and the missing and unexplained characters/events throughout the film.

Sorry for the long review, but I was truly disappointed with this film. Expected much better.

37 of 64 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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