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I've used this film very successfully in high school discussions and in classes on antisemitism. And yes, things like this really did happen to Jews -- and still do. The question of whether or not to stay "in the closet" and "pass" or be yourself and get rejected is an issue for other minorities, too. If you work in any area of multicultural studies and/or dialogue, you should add this film to your library.
A young Brendan Fraser is stunning as David Green, a working class Jewish kid accepted to one of the most prestigious preparatory schools in the country. It would only be for one year, but what a year. With dreams of going to Harvard, this was his way in. He keeps his religion a secret from the new friends he makes, but when it all comes out in the end, slurs are thrown and the people he thought he could trust leave David high and dry.
It speaks of an era when there were 100 different slurs for each religion and race, and the people who actually believed that somehow they were better. No character is portrayed in this negative light better than Charlie Dillon, brought to life by none other than Matt Damon. The seeds of his jealousy are planted within the first fifteen minutes and as the movie progresses you see Dillon become more desperate for his former status after David Green takes his position on the football team and in the life of a girl he thinks to be his.
Other standouts include Chris O'Donnell, playing Fraser's fictional roommate, who is forced to deal with the situation a bit more close up than some of their classmates. Randall Batinkoff, though not well known, gives a fabulous performance as Damon's fictional roommate, having to decide which is more important: his best friend and roommate of 4 years, or his morals and conscience urging him to speak up in defense of David Green.Read more ›
For one, Dillon (Damon) is such a real person. He's such a sport about the scholarship kid coming in and taking his place on the football team. My favorite part is when he tells Green, "If you get into Harvard, you'll deserve it," (subtext: unlike me). He was even prepared to take it like a man when Green steals his girl. But that horrible feeling of inadequacy -- that he's never going to live up to his brother's standard, that he's just a sham of his family's reputation, transforms magically into hate when he realizes his rival is a Jew.
Dillon knows Green is the better man. He KNOWS it, but he still uses his religion to beat him down. It doesn't even matter whether Dillon believes the stereotypes. As long as some do, they can be used to attack the rival.
Charlie Dillon makes an excellent villain because he can be identified with. Whether you or I would attack someone's religious faith isn't necessarily the question. When people are in dire straights, they tend to jettison their principles and grab whatever tool seems handiest and most effective. I love the fact that we get to see this guy at his best and his worst.
When the question of the Honor Code arises, we get to see another side of the world faced by the outsider. Even if his classmates can get over their prejudice and remember that Green is a good guy, will that be enough to make them turn on one of their own? Even if they do, will it matter?
This movie was so much better than it had to be. Great plot, great characters, great atmosphere.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was a good story, well-acted, but not what I was expecting.Published 9 hours ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent movie, well worth watching - Brandon Fraser gives a convincing performance and is assisted by
very capable actors.
Great movie. It was cool to see a lot of famous actors when they were younger.Published 2 days ago by Amazon Customer