Keeping the Faith

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Keeping the Faith
Keeping the faith.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byEdward Norton
Produced byHawk Koch
Edward Norton
Stuart Blumberg
Written byStuart Blumberg
Music byElmer Bernstein
CinematographyAnastas N. Michos
Edited byMalcolm Campbell
Touchstone Pictures
Spyglass Entertainment
Koch Co.
Norton/Blumberg Productions
Triple Threat Talent
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • April 14, 2000 (2000-04-14)
Running time
128 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$29 million
Box office$59.9 million

Keeping the Faith is a 2000 American romantic comedy film written by Stuart Blumberg, and starring Ben Stiller, Edward Norton (in his directorial debut), Jenna Elfman, Eli Wallach, and Anne Bancroft. This film was released by Touchstone Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment, in association with Triple Threat Talent, on April 14, 2000.

The film is dedicated to Norton's late mother, Robin. It had a budget of $29 million.[1]


The film begins with a drunken and downtrodden Catholic priest telling his story to a sympathetic bartender (Brian George). 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 parish 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 synagogue; his lack of effort to find a Jewish wife often results in his mother, Ruth (Anne Bancroft) and other women of his congregation setting him up on blind dates, much to his dismay. The two men show a close bond, even in their professions, where the two are planning the opening of a jointly sponsored community center. 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 became great friends, and enjoyed their childhood together. Unfortunately, Anna's father got a new job that resulted in the Reillys moving to California, and ultimately she lost touch with Brian and Jake.

Sixteen years later, Anna calls her old friends out of the blue and the friendship is rekindled when her company temporarily reassigns 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 the men's careers that are the most problematic. She and Jake begin 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 - Jake's older brother Ethan - 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. As the months pass, both Jake and Anna's feelings for each other become stronger but due to the aforementioned issues, Jake still refuses the relationship as a serious one, despite Anna dropping hints to him about her having been recently taking a class (but refusing to tell him what kind of class it is), and her becoming visibly upset when they run into members of Jake's congregation while on a date and Jake introducing her only as "my old friend Anna".

As the Community Center's grand opening approaches, along with the last days of Anna's East Coast assignment, the relationships begin to mend, first with Jake reconciling with Brian, followed by Anna reconciling with Brian shortly after. A discussion between the two men prompts Jake to go to Anna's office building, with Brian shouting encouragement at him as he runs down the street. Jake interrupts Anna's going away office party and manages to get her attention from a window in the building across the street and calls to explain himself and offer to set things right. Later that evening, 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, referencing the class that Anna had told Jake briefly she had been taking, at which point it becomes clear that she had been taking classes to convert to Judaism. She tells him she hopes to pick it up again as she is also now staying in New York, with Jake clearly thrilled. The film ends happily with the three childhood friends posing for a photo together.


  • Samuel R. Goldberg as Teenage Jake Schram
  • Michael Charles Roman as Teenage Brian Finn


Keeping the Faith received mixed to positive reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a 69% rating, sampled from 115 film critics, with an average score of 6.2/10. The consensus states: "A dramedy featuring an unusual love triangle, Keeping the Faith is a perceptive look at how religion affects us in everyday life."[2] Metacritic gives the film a score of 60 out of 100, based on reviews from 31 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."[3]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Box office[edit]

The film opened at #3 at the US box office, making $8,078,671 in its opening weekend, behind 28 Days and Rules of Engagement.[5] The film eventually grossed $37,047,880 in North America and $22,897,303 in other territories, totaling $59,945,183 worldwide.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Keeping the Faith (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 25, 2011.
  2. ^ "Keeping the Faith". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
  3. ^ "Keeping the Faith". Metacritic. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
  4. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  5. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for April 14-16, 2000". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 25, 2011.