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Half Nelson
Half Nelson
Actors: Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie, Shareeka Epps, Jeff Lima, Nathan Corbett
Director: Ryan Fleck
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
R     2007     1hr 47min

Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) is a young inner-city junior high school teacher whose ideals wither and die in the face of reality. Day after day in his shabby Brooklyn classroom, he somehow finds the energy to inspire his 13 an...  more »

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Movie Details

Actors: Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie, Shareeka Epps, Jeff Lima, Nathan Corbett
Director: Ryan Fleck
Creators: Ryan Fleck, Alex Orlovsky, Anna Boden, Charlie Corwin, Clara Markowicz, Doug Dey
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/13/2007
Original Release Date: 08/11/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 08/11/2006
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 47min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 1
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Member Movie Reviews

Reviewed on 6/19/2023...
The beginning was so so slow (hit the 120X FF). It finally picked up some but this was not Ryan Gosling or Anthony Mackie's finest work and more of an in-between Amateur and Professional Actor. A common theme drove this downward.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Robert M. from DURAND, IL
Reviewed on 7/7/2014...
I liked the movie. Just thought as a teacher he was a bit messed up.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Thomas A. (tomasin)
Reviewed on 1/17/2012...
Why you should watch this movie:
1.- Ryan Gosling And Shareeka Epps, they're good acting.
2.- We need discovered the drug world in our streets.
3.- The kind of movie of you can show to more people.

Why you should skip this movie:
1.- May be, slow mode.
2.- If you can't pay attention.
3.- If you don't like the Drama's.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Jeremy G.
Reviewed on 1/4/2011...
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Dan and Drey
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 09/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"For several years now I have been waiting for Ryan Gosling to fulfill the promise that he exhibited in his revolutionary performance in "The Believer." Films have come and gone and in most of them he has been giving good performances ("Murder by Numbers") and problematic ones ("The Notebook") but always with a sense of who he is as an actor and more importantly how he can use his talent and his very being to bring the story of the character he is playing alive.
Now with his Dan Dunne, Gosling has finally fulfilled that promise and his Dunne is complicated (a terrific, human, enabling and encouraging high school teacher who is also a cocaine free-baser), sensitive to a fault, sexually aware...basically a talented, educated, addicted man from a loving family that can't help but fall victim to the baser parts of his nature. He is upright, strong, smart, loving but can't help but call on the appeal of drugs to douse the raging fire of indecision and self-hatred burning deep inside of him. A fire that director/writers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden choose not to explicitly reveal, though after a Dunne family dinner we are perhaps given some hints into Dan Dunne's upbringing and politically committed family and therefore the genesis of his addiction.
Fleck and Boden give us expositional information in a very interesting way here particularly the juxtaposition, the flipping back and forth of the images between the Dunne family dinner (ex-hippie parents, socially and politically committed brother and his girlfriend... eating, drinking bottles and bottles of wine) and Dunne's student and friend Drey's evening home with family: filling small plastic bags with cocaine, chatting about her brother in jail...all polite and ordinary. But honestly: which family situation is best, which family situation is the most comforting for Dan and Drey. This masterful scene goes on for quite a long time and yet Fleck and Boden refuse to comment, refuse to put one family in a better light than the other.
Besides Gosling, there are a couple of actresses here that deserve special note. One, in a small role, though she appeared in both "Six Feet Under" and "Taken," Tina Holmes as Goslings ex and a former addict's very presence on the screen brings a certain weight and gravity to this film and of course to her role. Holmes is all sly, shy smiles, small gestures (she does more with an eye crinkle than do most with long involved scenes) and an inherent honesty and vulnerability that makes your heart hurt. She actually steals her very first scene with Gosling by under acting and the sheer luminosity of her performance.
Secondly, Shareeka Epps as Drey is amazing: she has an old soul, and like Holmes a gravity and a basic honesty that sets her apart from others in her family and the other students in this film. As her jailed brothers friend Frank (the excellent Anthony Mackie) says of Drey's friendship with Dunne: "It is inappropriate." But you know what, as presented and implemented in this isn't. It's strange, it's rife with possible problems, it's audacious for sure but it's also the life preserver that saves both Dunne and Drey... it's their redemption.
Quietly Disturbing, Quietly Hopeful--Just Like Life
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 12/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Ryan Gosling is, without question, one of the finest actors of his generation. And I admire that he is still choosing to work in independent, meaningful films. He's come a long way from his days as a Mouseketeer. I contend that if "The Believer" had not been dismissed from Academy consideration due to a technicality, he could have made a serious bid for a Best Actor nomination several years ago. Even his work in more conventional films like "The Notebook" and "Murder By Numbers" is noteworthy and raises the quality of those productions.

"Half Nelson" is a small film about real people struggling with real problems. Shareeka Epps stars as Drey in a very straightforward, natural performance. She is growing up with the fear that she will become like her brother. He became entrenched in the world of drugs and is currently serving time. There is almost a feeling of inevitability, this is her world and she is incapable of escaping it. Gosling's Dan, on the other hand, is a semi-functioning drug addict who is her teacher. There is a helplessness to his life as well--he shows very little interest in actually changing his situation. But while he doesn't feel as if he can save himself, he channels that concern into saving Drey. And where she can't change her own circumstances, she makes a connection with Dan.

It's an interesting dynamic, one that isn't often portrayed. And the closeness of their bond can be somewhat unsettling in that they are teacher/student, male/female, adult/child. It's not an easy relationship to form under ordinary circumstances.

There are no major revelations by the characters in "Half Nelson". No major confrontations, no climactic scene, no tidy ending. It's just two characters quietly drawn to each other and gaining strength, however fleetingly, from that association. You're left to ponder what will happen with these characters once the film has ended. You may have a glimmer of hope, but realistically you know it's going to be an uphill battle. Ultimately the movie's realism, and lack of an answer, are it's strongest asset. Life doesn't come in tidy packages for any of us. KGHarris, 12/06.
Dark and Disturbing Story - Exceedingly Well Acted
Gregg Hillier | Portland, Ore USA | 02/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Half Nelson" is one of those small films that tackles gritty subject matter without concern to being "politically correct" or - worse -"marketable" to a mass audience. This allows the Actors and Writers more artistic freedom. Reminiscent of 2000's excellent "Requiem for a Dream," "Half Nelson" shows the ravages of drug addiction on a seemingly normal person. At the beginning of the film, Ryan Gosling's Dan Dunne seems merely an offbeat, creative inner-city Teacher, but the depth of his crack addition soon begins to show. Mr. Gosling bravely tackles this role with grace and a strange dignity - halfway into the film he wears a goofy bandage on his lip after a girlfriend pops him during a crack-fueled seduction. His Oscar nomination is well-deserved: he never takes this role "over the top" and manages to be sympathetic and tragic all at once. Ms. Epps is excellent as well, displaying a maturity and finesse as Mr. Gosling's ally."