"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
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 »
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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