Popkorn Junkie

MOVIE REVIEW FOR "THE BELIEVER" STARRING RYAN GOSLING, SUMMER PHOENIX, AND BILLY ZANE
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Note: This film has an R rating.

Junkie Rating:

This film received 4 pops out of 4 pops.This film received 4 pops out of 4 pops.This film received 4 pops out of 4 pops.This film received 4 pops out of 4 pops.

 

Cast and Credits

Henry Bean (Director)
Ryan Gosling (Danny Balant)
Summer Phoenix (Carla Moebius)
Theresa Russell (Lina Moebius)
Billy Zane (Curtis Zampf)
A.D. Miles (Guy Danielsen)

Visit the official The Believer website

 

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The original motion picture sound track
Buy The Believer soundtrack

 

 
      First off, this film was originally scheduled for release on in September of 2001, but was one of the many films postponed due to the attacks on the WTC.  The catch is--it was scheduled for release on cable...that's right, Showtime was going to air the film, after it won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.  Where else could such a controversial film receive such publicity and praise but on Showtime or HBO?  They revel in controversy.
 
      The film is based on the true story of white supremacist Danny Burros, who was revealed by the New York Times in the 1960's to be Jewish.  He promptly killed himself the same day.  Both names and events are changed in this film, but the tragedy of the real life scenario is all the more tragic in this film adaptation, which goes along with "American History X" as a sterling example of the narrow mindedness and idiocy involved in the white supremacy movements.
 
      Ryan Gosling is Danny Balint, a young Jewish boy in New York City who is struggling with his beliefs and ideals.  Though he feels the need to indulge in his rich heritage, he can't help but be drawn into a counter culture that pretty much pisses on everything he and his family are.  The retelling of this true life incident is quite accurate and does not stray too far from the actual events which transpired.  I had never heard of this incident before I watched "The Believer", but did some research afterwards and found much of it too be supremely fascinating. 
 
      Like "American History X", this film contains some scenes that are very controversial and challenging, though they are in the film for the sole purpose of discouraging the cause of white supremacy.  Ryan Gosling, who I absolutely loathed in "Murder By Numbers", gives a stellar performance as the title character, and Summer Phoenix shows that acting just runs in her family, because she lights up the screen throughout.  Supporting characters like Theresa Russell and Billy Zane, add depth and dimension to the film, along with giving us some familiar faces to look at from time to time.
 
      First time director Henry Bean does a superb job of examining the turmoil and confusion of the boy, as well as giving both sides of his life equal treatment and equal importance.  The film is never slow going and is always posing some sort of moral question or challenge, which is what I enjoyed the most.  I like going to the theatre to be challenge, and I especially like it when what could have been just another TV movie becomes a contender for many of the top awards in Hollywood.  If only Showtime and HBO would take chances on more of their 'original' films and release them shortly in theatres, then maybe a classic film like last year's "Wit" could have received more recognition. 
 
      "The Believer" is a powerful piece of cinema, featuring a dazzling, Oscar nomination worthy, performance from Ryan Gosling, and brilliant direction from the talented Henry Bean.  Though it is not quite as powerful and awe inspiring as "American History X", it delivers on numerous levels and really makes you think when you leave the theatre.  That's what cinema is all about.


     --
Billy Ray ( 4 out of 4 pops )

 

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