I saw this movie in part a number of times when it was first being shown on HBO, and it was one of the first straight dramas to thoroughly catch and hold my interest. I’ve always had a great fascination for the easy sympathy grabbers (see: any films about prejudice or revenge, basically) and this fits that bill pretty well.
I believe it was actually my first exposure to Brendan Fraser, though the entire rest of the cast was unknown to me at the time. It’s bizarre to see now that the main antagonist is none other than Matt Damon and I just never knew it before.
Excellent performances all around as I’ve always remembered, and just generally a darn good movie.
It’s very nice and refreshing and interesting that it wasn’t about the prejudice exclusively. On some level it was also just a coming of age/high school movie in a way, and the religious issues (and related prejudices) did not always come into it, which they probably wouldn’t.
Still, it makes me think of, I believe it was Ebert’s review, that discussed who was at fault on certain counts. Certainly no one debates that the maker of the swastika was a scummy human being, period, but a number of characters accuse David (Fraser) of being a “liar” and suggest that he should have told them before and that sort of thing. There is, to some degree, a point to this; he perhaps should have said something when they first mentioned “jew[ing someone] down”–but that really doesn’t change their feelings. In fact, he’s completely right if their later actions are any indication–they’d’ve just written him off and never made friends with him. Even his roommate Reece shows signs that he would have thought differently of him as a person, even if he is one of the more open minded ones.
And even beyond that; why is he required to declare his religion–as he points out to Reece–when no one else is?
Is he really lying–even by omission–by not declaring his religion? Does any of us walk in a room and scream, “I’M A JEW/CHRISTIAN/ATHEIST/MUSLIM!”? I mean really now…Admittedly, if it is thoroughly important to him, it shouldn’t be so secretive, and he did put away his Star of David necklace before showering at night. Then again, that was done after a goodly number of off colour jokes and such, too.
I do the same thing, for that matter, in that I generally let everyone make vague comradely statements as if everyone around them is Christian and do not generally feel the need to declare my lack of religion unless someone asks or they make disparaging comments about someone else and I wish to prove a point about those of us who are less obvious.
I don’t know; I guess I just feel that there is something wrong here, but it is not up to us to disprove the assumptive folk around, nor is it our fault if they make such assumptions. We shouldn’t have to declare our more minority beliefs because they shouldn’t be talkin’ shit in the first place, whether we’re there or not, dammit.