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Hollywood Spotlight - Reviews [Keeping the Faith]
ORIGINAL FULL FILM REVIEW
KEEPING THE FAITH
If you have to believe in something, You might as well believe in love.
PG-13 (for some sexuality and language)
Edward Norton , Howard Koch and Stuart Blumberg
Edward Norton, Eli Wallach, Jenna Elfman, Ron Rifkin and Ben Stiller
· Synopsis:[Recommended Reading] Best friends since they were kids, Rabbi Jacob Schram and Father Brian Finn are dynamic and popular young men living and working on New York's Upper West Side. When Anna Reilly, once their childhood friend and now grown into a beautiful corporate executive, suddenly returns to the city, she reenters Jake and Brian's lives and hearts with a vengeance. Sparks fly and an unusual and complicated love triangle ensues.
T here are those in the world who are driven by faith. There are those who are driven by passion. There are those who are driven by lust. And then there are those who are driven by all of the above! Touchstone Pictures’ new film Keeping the Faith introduces us to a whole new world of trouble - a world where faith and passion collide. Get ready to explore the inner depths of two men who face the ultimate test of faith: a smart and beautiful woman.
We start off with an introduction to Brian Kilkenny Finn [Edward Norton] and Jacob Schram [Ben Stiller] as young boys, the best of friends. Enter the spunky Anna Reilly [Jenna Elfman] who has just the right spark to make this the happiest young trio of all time. But, as all good things come to an end, poor “Anna Banana” moves away, across country, breaking their gang to pieces. Sixteen years later, still the best of friends, Brian and Jacob have followed in their parents’ footsteps and become leaders in their religious communities as a Father and Rabbi, respectively. One day, out of the clear blue, Brian receives a phone call from their long lost friend Anna who has been doing well and will be coming out to see them! Brian and Jacob pick up Anna at the airport and spend the next several weeks catching up on their times and becoming re-acquainted. But something goes terribly wrong: both Brian and Jacob begin to fall in love with her! As Rev. Palmer Joss [Contact, Matthew McConaughey] might say, you could call them “Men of the cloth - without the cloth.” So here begins the saga of three best friends in a love triangle that is certain to end up in at least one broken heart [begin playback: Eagles, Heartache Tonight].
Now I have no intention of blowing the remainder of the story that contains all the best of the movie. The story covers lots of ground with several sub-plots, all of which come together perfectly in the end. What I can say, however, is: watch out for “T-Bone”, `cause that man looks MEAN! This movie contains clean-cut cinematography with clever editing highlights. The fact that, for once, I don’t remember the music played in the soundtrack for this movie says to me that it contained carefully selected tracks that perfectly compliment the scenes. Oftentimes a poorly selected song can stick right out of a scene like a sore thumb, but being thoroughly engrossed by this film leaves no opportunity for such a discovery. Conversely, being of its style and type, don’t keep your hopes up for dazzling surround sound; what would you do with it?
Would I call this film a “Romantic comedy?” Well .. how about a “Comedic romance?” While Keeping the Faith sports an underlying romance genre base-line story, it really seems to be more comedy driven, with a touch of moral message, the likes of which you might find in an episode of The Simpsons. The presentation is touching, but at the same time so hilariously infectious that it becomes difficult to remember it as a romance film at all. There is a flurry of comical enhancements to the film which were a first for me and are sure to be an inspiration to future filmmakers. At the same time, the love story that evolves is as realistic and modern as any, but did not over-saturate the presentation with sappy, mushy, slushy, tear-jerking goop that one might be accustomed to seeing in a romance story.
As far as acting goes, there are three key players in Keeping the Faith: Ben Stiller, Jenna Elfman and Edward Norton. Ben Stiller I think was a good compliment to his role. He is very good at being his natural self, although I have to say that I still think that one of his best performances came in the film Permanent Midnight, which I've been surprised to learn that quite a few people missed seeing. Now this was my first exposure to Jenna Elfman, and right off - her character bothered me. Elfman immediately came off as a sassy tomboy type. However, as the film moved on, she began to grow on me more and more until I became a Jenna Elfman fan by the end of the movie. I think that what initially turned me off about her was her limited character development, all of which was based on the brief performance of a younger actress portraying the character in her youth - and then *poink* there she was. By this time, we are already quite familiar with Stiller and Norton's characters by then. Having recently seen Fight club (again!), Norton was interesting to see on the screen. It was a great contrast in characters from a brutal schitzoid to a finely honed Father of ministry. What I thought was interesting was that considering his part as a key actor in the film, even though he directed and produced, Edward did not make his role stand out above the others which is interesting insight. Many actors who direct and produce the films in which they star tend to favor their own parts (*cough*Costner*cough*).
Now, I have reserved some thoughts about the directing in this film for the end here. Edward Norton. Let me just say “CONGRATULATIONS!” on a job well done. Keeping the Faith is the very first film directed and produced by the talented young actor, now director, Edward Norton from Boston. I think Norton first began captivating audiences with an incredible performance in the shocking American History X and then again in the more recent Fight Club. Now heads are REALLY turning with the release of this new film. Norton has the Creative Gift of the Gods; we can only hope that he continues to put out movies as they are certain to only get better! So, enough with the ego stroking, for directorial style. Keeping the Faith offers a plethora of presentation style, a unique touch of humor, and a clear vision of emotion. I found the film to stay very well on track with no sign of loose, “what the heck was the point of THAT?” scenes. The entire story came together very well in a comical and romantic climax that is a worthy contender of the genre.
It is not every day that our convictions of faith are tested so heavily, and this movie represents the extreme that could ever possibly be hoped to be seen - and pulls it off well! So for some rip-roaring laughs and a genuinely charming story this Spring, be sure not to miss Keeping the Faith which opens in theaters nationwide next week.