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Keeping the Faith

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2000 - Keeping the Faith Movie Poster

Keeping the Faith is a 2000 romantic comedy film, written by Stuart Blumberg and directed by Edward Norton. This film was released by Touchstone Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment, in association with Triple Threat Talent on April 14, 2000.

The film is Edward Norton's directorial debut and was dedicated to his late mother, Robin Norton. The film had a budget of $29 million.[1]

Plot

Father Brian Finn (Edward Norton) has been dedicated to his calling since he was a child and now shares the duties of a New York congregation with an older priest, Fr. Havel (Miloš Forman). Rabbi Jacob "Jake" Schram (Ben Stiller), best friends with Brian since childhood, is the youngest rabbi at his Reform synagogue; his lack of effort to find a wife often results in his mother (Anne Bancroft) and other women of his congregation setting him up on blind dates, much to his dismay.

In its earlier days, the friendship included a third party. Via flashbacks and reminiscent musings, Anna Reilly (Jenna Elfman) is introduced: she met Jake and Brian in middle school, after beating up a bully who was picking on them. The three enjoyed attending ballgames, playing sports and riding the subway around the city together, as well as getting into typical mischief. Unfortunately, Anna's father got a new job that resulted in the Reillys moving cross-country to California.

Years later, Anna calls her old friends out of the blue and the friendship is rekindled when her company temporarily re-assigns her to a New York position. Feelings quickly begin to run deeper than before, as Anna, despite her workaholic tendencies, is as vibrant as Brian and Jake remembered her; however, it is, ironically, the men's careers that prove to be the most problematic.

She and Jake start sleeping together, but he is reluctant to be involved in a serious relationship with her because she is not Jewish, a fact which could compromise his relationship with his congregation and also with his mother (who disowned her eldest son for marrying outside the faith). Between the religious conflict and their desire to spare the feelings of their mutual friend, the relationship is kept mostly secret, resulting in both humorous and harmful complications.

Meanwhile, Brian is involved in his own test of faith as he struggles with his feelings for Anna despite his vows. Apart from praying about the situation and discussing it with Fr. Havel, he keeps these thoughts mostly to himself. Brian begins misinterpreting Anna's words and actions (some of which are subtle signals to Jake as their affair is kept under wraps) and even has an erotic dream about her; he begins to seriously consider quitting the priesthood to pursue a romantic relationship with her.

Anna tells Jake that she wants things to be more serious between them and he does not respond well. After an argument over the religious issues complicating their romance, Jake and Anna part ways in frustration. Anna turns to Brian for comfort and he rushes over to her apartment. Still unaware of what's been going on, he takes her tearful ramblings to be a confession of feelings for him, then kisses her and admits his love. When she interrupts him, he first assumes it to be guilt based on his vows, but she tells him she is in love with Jake. Feeling embarrassed and rejected, Brian raids Anna's liquor cabinet, angrily cutting off her attempts to re-assure him and apologize. The next day, still drunk, Brian stumbles into the temple and interrupts a post-bar mitzvah gathering, resulting in a confrontation with Jake that ends with the priest punching the rabbi. He leaves and stumbles around the city, getting drunk and relaying his troubles to a sympathetic bartender (Brian George).

As the Community Center's grand opening approaches, along with the last days of Anna's east coast assignment, the relationships begin to mend. A discussion between the two men prompts Jake to go to Anna's office building (where he is on perpetually uneasy terms with the security guard), with Brian shouting encouragement at him as he runs down the street. Jake manages to get Anna's attention from a window in the building across the street and calls to explain himself and offer to set things right. They surprise Brian in the middle of his karaoke number at the interfaith center, which looks to be off to a successful start. Anna greets Rabbi Lewis (Eli Wallach) as he passes by and asks about their meetings together, at which point it becomes clear that she had been taking classes to convert to Judaism. The film ends happily with the three childhood friends posing for a photo together.

Cast

Box office

The film opened at number three at the US box office making $8,078,671 in its opening weekend, behind 28 Days and Rules of Engagement.[2] The film eventually grossed $37,047,880 in North America and $22,897,303 in other territories, totaling $59,945,183 worldwide.[1]

References

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