starring Ryan Gosling, Summer Phoenix, Theresa Russell, Billy Zane
written and directed by Henry Bean
by Walter Chaw It isn't that Henry Bean's provocative The Believer unintentionally glamorizes white supremacy, as has been written--it's that The Believer doesn't do enough to make a case for it. Based ("inspired by" the better term) on the 1965 story of Daniel Burros, a member of the American Nazi Party and the KKK who, after being "outed" as a Jew in a NEW YORK TIMES article, killed himself confessing equal parts loathing and self-loathing, The Believer is unabashedly philo-Semitic, presenting the case for Judaism in a way manipulative and simple-minded. It is an Ayn Rand argument, a fictional foil with serpent's eloquence outmatched in the end by the light of right reason--literally in this case. That it imagines the afterlife as a Sisyphusian debate is the closest it ever comes to poignancy; the rest of the picture's dedicated to Philip Roth-lite: most of the anger, one quarter the savage. I've no problem with a biased dishonesty--my problem is with disguising that dishonesty in evenhanded reportage.