The Believer picked up the Grand Jury Prize at last year's Sundance Film Festival, blowing away the competition with its seemingly unbelievable premise. Twenty-two-year-old Danny Balint (Ryan Gosling) is a neo-Nazi skinhead. He's also Jewish. In fact, he was once a devout Jew, but somewhere along the way Danny started to hate his people and culture. Director Bean gives us clues about why it happened -- an absent mother, cynical father, his belief that the Jews didn't sufficiently resist the Nazis during the Holocaust -- but it's never directly explained. Danny joins a fascist organization run by an intellectual couple (Billy Zane and Theresa Russell) who subtly encourage his violent acts. But Danny's past catches up with him and he begins to splinter, caught between two belief structures. Gosling (Murder By Numbers) gives a jaw-dropping performance, presenting a sinewy, scowling mask of hatred that slowly dissolves to show a tender-hearted man who wants nothing more than to obliterate his pain. 98 minutes.
THE BELIEVER (Henry Bean) Rating: NNNN