Split personality

As played by the remarkable actor Ryan Gosling, Danny Balint is one of the most unconventional and compelling characters on the screen this year. In The Believer, Danny is a brilliant, charismatic young man who denies his Jewish parentage (he claims Balint is a German name), joins a crew of neo-Nazi thugs and rises to the forefront of a fledgling fascist organization. But he's haunted by the heritage he believes he despises. He makes plans to assassinate a distinguished Jewish philanthropist but turns aside at the crucial moment. He and his friends desecrate a synagogue, but when one of the others drags out the sacred scroll containing the Torah, he protects it, taunting his buddies for not knowing the first thing about the people they say they hate. He goes so far as to take the scroll home, where it sits in his closet like a challenge from the God he's been defying.

 

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