Monday, August 18, 2014

Film Review: The Believer (2001)

The Believer (Review)
United States/2001
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...very contemplative and interesting..."

The story of Danny Balint (Ryan Gosling), a radical Neo-Nazi who is a Jew himself.

The Believer is a drama following Danny as he delves deeper into his self-hatred and joins a radical fascist group. Danny has buried his Jewish roots and has developed a deep hatred for the Jewish people, as well as anyone below him in the racial "hierarchy." This group hones his charisma and uses his skillful speaking in attempt to break their beliefs into the mainstream. Meanwhile, Danny fights himself while plotting a vicious crime. The ending is great -- a very contemplative and interesting ending.

I think The Believer is a great film. I liked the story. I liked the focus on character. I liked the internal conflict and the character arc. For those of you interested in culture, like I am, this film also gives an insightful view of the religion. I wished there was a bit more background information, though, instead of the same old recurring flashback; the film just drops you into the plot without much buildup or background. Also, there are a couple of scenes where Danny fantasizes -- they're choppy and don't add much to the film -- fortunately they're far and few between.

Ryan Gosling is fantastic as the lead. His charisma really works in creating this troubled, confused, and complex character. The rest of the acting is also good -- not on par with Gosling's performance, but good. The film's cinematography was also good, as was the music. Some of the music sounded out of place, though. Aside from a few scenes, like the flashbacks and fantasies, Henry Bean's direction is great in pulling great performances, developing an interesting conflict, and creating some surprising tension.

Overall, The Believer is a great film. The story presents and develops an interesting and complex character, and leads to a great ending. The charismatic performance from Ryan Gosling is also top-notch. It's not on par with American History X, but it's a great complimentary film if you're looking for films with similar themes.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, sex and nudity.

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