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The Believer
cast: Ryan Gosling, Summer Phoenix, Billy Zane, and Theresa Russell

writer and director: Henry Bean

98 minutes (15) 2000
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Pathé DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Christopher Geary
Intense and disquieting urban drama, based on a true story, about young Danny (Ryan Gosling), an angry young man who hates Jews, leads a neo-Nazi gang, and becomes involved with fundraising for a fascist group run by intellectual Curtis (Billy Zane), and persuasive Lina (Theresa Russell). Although he chooses to wear a swastika t-shirt in public, and adhere to the stereotypical skinhead dress code, Danny is clearly no ignorant street punk. He's a highly articulate and passionate speaker for the 'rational' cause he claims to represent. But his bad boy hatred of all things Jewish comes from an unlikely source, because he was in fact born into a family of orthodox Jews...
   Reportedly, director Henry Bean was in New York when the planes struck the World Trade Centre, and his stunned reactions lead to second thoughts about the subtle irony of this film, which ends with the stark tragedy of a suicide bombing. Despite delays and anxieties about how audiences may receive its message, The Believer is nonetheless a fascinating portrait of one man's acute self-loathing, a racial shame that generates brutal aggression, and of a troubled soul achieving self-destruction. It's a gripping thriller, a study of an extremist character and, a very fine debut for this screenwriter turned director.
   DVD extras: Dolby digital 5.1 sound, 15 chapter stops, making-of documentary Anatomy Of A Scene (30 minutes) - courtesy of the Sundance Channel, a trailer.