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Movie Reviews

Keeping The Faith  

Brian Kilkenny Finn (Edward Norton)
Jake Schram (Ben Stiller)
Anna Riley (Jenna Elfman)
Ruth Schram (Anne Bancroft)
Father Havel (Milos Forman)

Directed by Edward Norton Written by Stuart Blumberg
Rated PG-13 for sexual situations and adult themes
Running Time: 131 minutes Distributed by Touchstone
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Keeping the Faith is a jolly and fun romantic comedy. Brian Kilkenny Finn (Norton) is a Catholic priest who combines his sermons with one-liners and speaks Spanish in the confession box. Jake Schram (Stiller), who is Brian's best friend, is a rabbi who speaks to his congregation with many funny examples. Anna Riley is a successful businesswoman who has a working relationship with her cell phone. When Anna, last seen by Jake and Brian when they were teenagers, returns to New York as a grown woman, to reunite with her old friends. Anna reenters Jake and Brian's lives and hearts with a vengeance. Sparks fly and an unusual and complicated love triangle creates between the three characters.

Norton does a potent job in his directorial debut of Keeping the Faith. Norton did show that he has a vast knowledge of the aspects behind the camera with his terrific editing job of American History X. Norton does an excellent job of balancing the emotion and comedy in Keeping the Faith. I hope to see Edward Norton doing more directing in the future. He has the potential to be successful in front of and behind the camera.

Stuart Blumberg wrote the script. The plot is something that all audiences have seen before, which is two best friends falling in love with the same woman. The background of having the two lead characters as a priest and a rabbi is what makes the story unique. It works very well having the two different religions tie into many comedic situations in the film. Examples are of Jake and Brian's initiation to the religion, and the styles that the two friends use to hold the attention of their congregation. The character development in Keeping the Faith is a lot better than most of the recent romantic comedies that have seen (Ex. The Next Best Thing). There are a couple of vague sequences in the film. An example is when Jake meets a lot of people from his congregation at a movie theater.

Edward Norton continues to show his incredible range as an actor in Keeping the Faith. Norton is a flat out amazing. He has gone from playing a psychopathic choirboy in Primal Fear, to Larry Flynt's lawyer in The People vs. Larry Flynt, to a hot tempered Nazi skinhead in American History X, to a lonely insomniac in Fight Club, to a likeable Catholic priest in Keeping the Faith. It doesn't get much better of a variety for an actor. Norton always has a deep presence in his roles. He is Hollywood's next great character actor. Ben Stiller is an actor that I sometimes enjoy and sometimes find annoying. However, Stiller turns in his best on-screen performance as Jake in Keeping the Faith. Stiller isn’t just humorous in this film, like most of his other roles; he develops believable drama in his character. Jenna Elfman is a gem as Anna. Elfman has a great smile that might become recognizable to audiences in the future. Elfman has progressed quickly from her TV show Dharma and Greg to becoming an admirable actress on the silver screen.

Keeping the Faith is an amusement of a film that also has a message of self-discovery in it. The film has good direction, good acting and good writing. The end result is a good movie.

Report Card Grade: B

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