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Film / Keeping the Faith

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Jake: Let me just say....oy.
Brian: Amen to your oy.

Or, "A priest and a rabbi..." The Movie.

Keeping the Faith is a 2000 romantic comedy directed by and starring Edward Norton and co-starring Jenna Elfman and Ben Stiller. His directorial debut, Norton dedicated the film to his late mother, Robin.

Brian Finn and Jacob Schram are at the mercy of a schoolyard bully when Anna Riley arrives to stop him. The three become inseparable friends, until Anna's father takes a job in California and she moves away. Brian and Jacob stay best friends, grow up and enter into their respective careers: Brian (Norton) becomes a Catholic priest and Jacob (Stiller) a rabbi. When Anna (Elfman) returns to New York for work and re-connects with her friends, a Love Triangle ensues.


  • Alliterative Name: Rachel Rose (Rena Sofer).
  • Artistic License – Religion: There is a scene where people in a synagogue are shown seated during kol nidrei, which would not happen in real life. This is not the only inaccuracy in the movie, but it's definitely the most egregious example.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Dang, the proprietor of the karaoke store, begins his negotiation with Brian and Jake over the price of the karaoke machine by putting on an extremely thick stereotypical Asian accent. When they get a bit more serious he abruptly drops it and starts speaking with an American accent.
  • The Bartender: Pauly, who accordingly listens to Brian's story and dispenses advice when he's finished.
  • Binocular Shot: Anna keeps a pair of binoculars in her office, at first to take a closer look at Manhattan landmarks, and then to watch the man in the office building across from hers having sex.
  • Blasphemous Boast: Anna says, "I work harder than God. If He had hired me, He would have made the world by Thursday."
  • Chekhov's Gun: The skyscraper across from Anna's office with the windows that can be looked into becomes important in the climax of the film.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    Brian: You know, there's eight million people in New York...but when the three of us were together it felt like we were living on our own little island.
    Bartender: *Frowns* But New York is an island.
  • Confessional: Brian is seen hearing confessions at his parish, though when he sees Anna in the booth after he kissed her and she confessed she was in love with Jake, he balks.
    Brian: Excuse me if I say that I don't think I'm the best person to offer objective advice on this particular confession.
  • Converting for Love: Strongly implied with Anna.
  • Cool Teacher: Jake, when he's helping a young member of his congregation learn a Haftarah for his Bar Mitzvah.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Brian
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Brian at the beginning of the film
  • Erotic Dream: Brian has one about Anna.
  • Failed Dramatic Exit: Anna and Jake have an argument about their relationship. It gets heated and angry, and eventually Anna furiously storms out of the apartment, informing Jake that their relationship is over, she's walking out and never coming back. Unfortunately, she's forgotten one crucial detail:
    Anna: [Storming back in] This is my apartment. You get out.
  • Forceful Kiss: Brian does this to Anna, thinking she's about to confess she's in love with him. She's not.
  • Funny Foreigner: Don the karaoke machine salesman plays this role initially with Brian and Jake, before dropping the act when they start quizzing him about prices.
  • Good Shepherd:
    • Brian does charity and community work and is obviously well-loved by his flock.
    • In the scene where Brian talks about why he became a priest, we see him as a kid bringing coffees to what appear to be trans sex workers
    • Jake is popular with his congregation and helping Brian to set up a joint Jewish-Catholic community centre.
  • Hot for Preacher: Averted, but see Sexy Priest trope below
  • How We Got Here: 3/4 of the film is Brian recounting to Pauly how he came to end up drinking in his tavern.
  • I Have No Son!: Jake's mom disowns his older brother Ethan after he marries a Catholic girl. Although it's ultimately revealed that she's at least attempted to reconcile with Ethan, who isn't willing to accept it.
  • Irishman and a Jew: Anna describes her, Brian and Jake as 'Two micks and a yid'
  • Ironic Echo Cut: Used after Jake's attempt to liven up his Shabbat service by having the Harlem Gospel Choir perform 'Ein Keloheinu'
    Jake: How upset are they?
    Rabbi Lewis: Let's just say they're less than thrilled.
    [Cut to meeting with Larry, the president of the synagogue]
    Larry: To be honest we're less than thrilled.
  • Jewish Mother: Jake's mom spends a lot of time harassing Jake about his love life.
  • Jews Love to Argue: A brief flashback shows Jake arguing with his father. Brian's narration implies that the argument is over Jake's decision to become a rabbi instead of entering into the family business. The argument is unheard, save for Jake's closing line:
    Jake: I don't wanna listen to any of you! (throws down yarmulke and storms off)
  • Like Brother and Sister: Lampshaded by Jake when Brian admits he's in love with Anna:
    Jake: I mean, she's like your sister, Brian, that's-
    Brian: Yes, thankyou for adding depth to my confusion!
  • Love Triangle: Anna is in a secret relationship with Jake and Brian is in love with her and unaware of the relationship.
  • Montages: Several.
  • Nice Jewish Girl: Jake is under pressure from his mother and his synagogue to find a Jewish wife. Truth in Television, as Judaism is passed down the generations through matrilineal descent. Jake's brother Ethan is disowned by his mother because he married a non-Jew.
  • Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation: The audience never exactly knows what Anna's job is, other than that it's in business or management. Brian describes it as 'analysing synergies or synergising analogies'
  • Romantic False Lead: Rachel Rose is this for Jake- although their double date with Brian and Anna goes reasonably well, it becomes clear that Jake is far more attracted to Anna, and after dropping Rachel back at her place, he goes straight to Anna's apartment and a Sexy Discretion Shot ensues.
  • Scenery Porn: The entire film is a loving look at New York City.
  • Secret Relationship: Anna and Jake
  • Sexy Priest: Lampshaded by Anna in a conversation with Brian:
    Anna: I've seen the way women look at you, even though they know you're a priest - especially when they know you're a priest!
  • She Is All Grown Up: Brian and Jake's reaction when they meet Anna coming off the plane.
  • Team Power Walk: Brian and Jake walk together to Carlos Santana's 'Smooth'. See it for yourself.
  • Two Guys and a Girl
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Anna to Jake
  • Vow of Celibacy: Brian, a Catholic priest, develops feelings for his childhood friend, Anna. He falsely convinces himself that his feelings reciprocated, and wonders about his future in the church. In fact, Anna is in a secret relationship with their mutual friend (who's a rabbi, but they have different rules).
  • Workaholic: Anna, and how! She carries her cellphone with her everywhere and has it strapped to her thigh when she's on a date.