review for Keeping the Faith on AllMovie

Keeping the Faith (2000)
by Karl Williams review

The directorial debut of actor Edward Norton, the bracing comedy Keeping the Faith unfolds like nothing so much as the film Woody Allen would be making if he were a forty-years-younger member of Generation X. Playing to the acting strengths of Norton and co-stars Ben Stiller and Jenna Elfman, the script by Stuart Blumberg manages to create all of the necessary tension and conflict to keep its story moving at a brisk pace, but attempts something refreshingly different with its tale built on a barroom joke premise ("a priest and a rabbi fall in love with the same girl. . ."). The characters in Keeping the Faith are mature and intelligent, never reacting to their romantic predicament with the sort of overblown, phony dramatics expected from a high-concept Hollywood entertainment, each attempting to reasonably navigate the entanglement. Unexpected but delightful as well is the inclusion of several older supporting players (portrayed with assured dexterity by veterans Ron Rifkin, Eli Wallach, Milos Forman, and Anne Bancroft), who act as counselors, mentors, and sounding boards for the exuberant but inexperienced younger stars. Keeping the Faith is a thoughtful, charming depiction of reason and sportsmanship in interpersonal relationships, which is rarely (if ever) depicted in a cinema where the name of the game is action and violence.