I’m not sure how The Believer made it onto my Netflix queue. It was probably a recommendation from the stuff that I pick on my own. Regardless, I’m glad that I watched it.
The Believer is a powerful portrait of a Jew who becomes a skinhead. It’s part religious-psycho drama, part social-commentary. The main character’s flashbacks to his childhood religious training are deep, and provide insight into his growth and development.
The movie is a masterful adaptation of the true life and death story of Daniel Burros, a Jew who became a Ku Klux Klansman and committed suicide when the New York Times published a story that outed him as a Jew.
Unlike the true story, this movie provides a distinctive redemptive moment of grace when Danny Balint, the main character, connects to his heritage.
I think that I’m drawn to this movie/story because of its similarity to the characters drawn by Flannery O’Connor in her short stories. Danny Balint in The Believer lives life independent of a sense and memory of community, but connects with Truth remembered from the past at a significant, albeit tragic, point in life.
If you watch this movie, be aware of very strong language. (It’s probably not a good “general family” movie.)
Danny Balint is a powerful character, not unlike the Nazi character played by Edward Norton in American History X.