Premiere - 04/01/2002
"...The film provides horrific rushes generated in equal part by Bean's genuinely intellectually challenging screenplay and an outstanding performance by Ryan Gosling..."
Film Comment - 05/01/2002
"...[Gosling] carries himself as a creature of willed evil, righteous revenge, sardonic cruelty, intelligence at war with the ideology it can assume but never absorb, and most of all doubt..."
Entertainment Weekly - 05/24/2002
"...Gosling's performance is riveting....A demonstration of independent filmmaking at is most uncompromising..."
Los Angeles Times - 05/17/2002
"...Ryan Gosling is electrifying and terrifyingly convincing..."
Wall Street Journal - 12/10/2010
"What it's about is also what it requires for proper appreciation -- the ability of the human mind to hold, and even cherish, diametrically opposite thoughts."
Raised Jewish, Danny (Ryan Gosling) now runs with an anti-Semitic skinhead gang in Queens. Attending a meeting held by prominent self-proclaimed fascist Curtis Zampf (Billy Zane), Danny is noticed when he proposes killing Jews as a solution to society's problems. Danny's words create excitement not only for their racist content, but also for his articulate way of expressing himself and his knowledge of the Jewish faith. Zampf sees potential in Danny and takes him under his wing. Working with the enigmatic extremist, Danny meets the sadomasochistic Carla (Summer Phoenix). Between rough sexual encounters, Danny teaches Carla Hebrew and facts about Judaism. Carla becomes interested in the Jewish faith while Danny becomes disillusioned with his neo-Nazi lifestyle finding it as hypocritical as he found Judaism to be. Haunted by his past and questioning his own beliefs, Danny finds himself a prime suspect in the assassination of a respected Jewish figure.
Writer-director Henry Bean scored a success with this American independent focusing more on faith than hatred. THE BELIEVER won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for Best Screenplay and Best First Feature at the 2002 Independent Spirit Awards.