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Half Nelson


Despite his dedication to the junior-high students who fill his classroom, idealistic teacher Dan Dunne leads a secret life of addiction that the majority of his students will never know. But things change when a troubled student Drey makes a startling discovery of his secret life, causing a tenuous bond between the two that could either end disastrously or provide a catalyst of hope.

Actors: Jeff Lima , Ryan Gosling , Erica Rivera , Kaela C. Pabon , Bryce Silver , Tristan Wilds , Rosemary Ledee , Tyra Kwao-Vovo , Nathan Corbett , Shareeka Epps
Directors: Ryan Fleck
Country: USA
Release: 2006-09-22
More Info:
  • Ken Fox

    Superb drama from New York-based filmmakers Ryan Flek and Anna Boden.

    TV Guide Full Review
  • Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Half Nelson offers an opportunity to marvel, once again, at the dazzling talent of Ryan Gosling for playing young men as believable as they are psychologically trip-wired.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Kenneth Turan

    What is different about Half Nelson is the execution, the kind of subtlety in writing, directing and acting (by costars Shareeka Epps and Anthony Mackie as well as Gosling) you seldom see.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Jonathan Rosenbaum

    A dedicated, charismatic, crack-addicted history teacher is the most believable protagonist in an American movie this year.

    Chicago Reader Full Review
  • Michael Sragow

    The movie lives in its small details.

    Baltimore Sun Full Review
  • Scott Tobias

    Gosling excels at playing contradictory characters like this one, having kick-started his career as a Jewish neo-Nazi in "The Believer," but here, his inner turmoil rarely gets vocalized. It's a remarkably subtle performance.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Scott Foundas

    At a time when most American movies, studio made or "independent," seem ever more divorced from anything approximating actual life experience, Half Nelson is so sobering and searingly truthful that watching it feels like being tossed from a calm beach into a raging current.

    L.A. Weekly Full Review
  • Rob Nelson

    The audacity of making an inner-city drama in which the white-male authority figure is the crackhead finds its equal in Gosling's already legendary performance, a high-wire act that's gutsiest for its unconscionable charm.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Manohla Dargis

    What makes Half Nelson both an unusual and an exceptional American film, particularly at a time when even films about Sept. 11 are professed to have no politics, is its insistence on political consciousness as a moral imperative.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Michael Phillips

    No halves about it: Half Nelson is a wholly absorbing and delicately shaded portrait of an educator played by Ryan Gosling, a young man harboring an offstage secret.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    A compelling drama that establishes Ryan Gosling as one of the finest actors of his generation.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    Gosling may be the soul of Half Nelson, but Epps is the film's heart.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    Best where it counts the most - in its recognition of how difficult it will be for Dan and Drey to turn their lives around.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Shawn Levy

    Gosling, who was amazing in "The Believer" but hasn't yet connected substantially with a big audience, continues to impress.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Gianni Truzzi

    Just in time for back-to-school, this smart film about a troubled teacher and student upends most movie images, both romantic and negatively stereotyped, of the urban classroom.

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer Full Review
  • James Greenberg

    If there was ever any doubt, with Half Nelson, Ryan Gosling establishes himself as a major talent and one of the finest young actors around.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Don R. Lewis

    Fleck manages to mix the storylines which include drug abuse, political commentary and making good choices about your life's path flawlessly.

    Film Threat Full Review
  • Angie Errigo

    Just wonderful with its offbeat but wholly credible storyline, down-to-earth style and exceptionally fine performances.

    Empire Full Review
  • Andrew O'Hehir

    It's a complex and defiant fable of American life run just slightly off the rails, delivering all the impact of "Crash" without the phony-baloney paradoxes or brick-in-the-face message delivery. Full Review
  • David Edelstein

    Downbeat as it is, Half Nelson is a genuinely inspirational film--a terrifically compelling character study and a tricky exploration of the links (and busted links) between the personal and the political.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Dana Stevens

    It keeps surprising us, mainly by being consistently smarter and sadder than inspirational-teacher movies usually let themselves be.

    Slate Full Review
  • Dennis Harvey

    Avoiding rote inspirational notes as well as boyz-in-the-hood violence, scrupulously low-key drama nonetheless builds to a powerful impact.

    Variety Full Review
  • Ann Hornaday

    Nearly every scene rings with its own ragged truth, which becomes increasingly painful as Dan's addiction becomes more unmanageable and as he refuses to confront the untenable politics of his own behavior.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Marc Savlov

    Half Nelson, with its bleakly hopeful view of humanity both damned and redeemed – simultaneously – is uncomfortably, almost exactly right.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Jack Mathews

    It is not easy to watch, yet beyond the traps that society and the urban culture have set up for Drey and the other kids, and the traps that Dan is falling into on his own, this is ultimately a hopeful story of common humanity.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Steven Rea

    It's a performance that will make you cringe - with despair, with empathy - as Gosling's Dan takes one self-destructive step after another.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Ruthe Stein

    You never catch Gosling doing anything out of character. It's the first Oscar-caliber performance I've seen so far this year.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Krista Vitola

    Nelson works largely because Gosling and Epps work flawlessly together.

    Premiere Full Review
  • Rick Groen

    This is a grown-up film that puts liberalism under the microscope and finds it tired -- not a dirty word, as neo-cons believe, and not a panacea, as sentimentalists wish, but just tired and longing for rejuvenation.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Lawrence Toppman

    The movie is not credible, even in an inner-city setting. At the same time, it's touching.

    Charlotte Observer Full Review
  • Kyle Smith

    Too bad there is only about half an hour's worth of story here. Mostly, we just watch the teacher get high, and his classroom talks about civil rights are nothing but filler.

    New York Post Full Review
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