USA

Synopsis

Twelve-year-old Danny Balint (RYAN GOSLING) is a precocious intellectual, arguing with the rabbis at the yeshiva, and running away from gentile toughs on the street. By twenty-two, he is a skin-head, living alone, browsing militia movement websites...and developing ever more complex and fervent anti-Semitic theories. At a neo-fascist organizing meeting at the home of Lina Moebius (THERESA RUSSELL), Danny impresses people with his articulate fervor, especially Lina's bright and complicated daughter, Carla (SUMMER PHOENIX), who is more interested in Danny's mind and strange passions than in her mother's politics. As Danny rises in right-wing circles, his increasing prominence threatens to expose him as a Jew. Fleeing New York with fellow skinheads, he picks a fight in a kosher deli and ends up in court where he is sentenced to "sensitivity training" with elderly Holocaust survivors. As they tell their terrible stories, Danny explodes in rage at the Jews' helpless passivity before the Nazis, their willingness to endure and survive rather than fight back and be destroyed.Yet the survivors affect him more than he knows or would admit. And when he leads a group of skin-heads into a nearby synagogue to plant a bomb, the sanctuary, the ark, and above all, the Torah touch Danny in a way he doesn't expect and doesn't want. With this, his "Jewish soul" reawakens and leads him into ever more remarkable contradictions...and toward his own mysterious end. By day, Danny gives anti-Semitic speeches, raises money for a neo-fascist movement and plans to bomb synagogues. By night, he studies Torah and teaches Carla Hebrew while she tempts him with plans to light candles and say Sabbath prayers. For a brief moment, Danny has everything he wants: he is a Jew and a Nazi at once, not reconciling them, but living the impossible contradiction.
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Cast & Crew

Directed by: Henry Bean

Written by: Henry Bean

Produced by: Susan Hoffman, Christopher Roberts

Main Cast: Billy Zane, Theresa Russell, Summer Phoenix, Ryan Gosling

Nominations and Awards

  • Screen International Award (for a non-European film) 2001