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Half Nelson

Ryan Gosling - Academy Award Nominee

Surprisingly ignored by the Sundance jury (though ranked first in an Indiewire poll of journalists at the festival), the Brooklyn-set Half Nelson pays fond tribute to, even as it slyly subverts, the inspirational classroom fable. In essence, the movie stakes its bets on Ryan Gosling, who comes through with an astonishing performance, as a dedicated teacher attempting to inspire his inner-city eighth-graders with impassioned lectures on dialectics. His disastrous personal life starts to intrude on his job, though, when one of his students (Shareeka Epps) finds him strung out on crack in a toilet stall. Fleck and Boden's script undercuts its rigid schema with oddball wit and political smarts. The pair have some nonfiction experience, having directed last year's Cuban hip-hop doc Young Rebels , and they fostered an air of low-key verite on Half Nelson by encouraging the cast to improvise. Epps underplays her part beautifully, and Gosling, perhaps the most mentally agile of young American actors, is beyond credibleóhe's practically heartbreaking. Dennis Lim, Village Voice
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Directed by: 
Ryan Fleck
Running Time: 
Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps, Anthony Mackie, Monique Curnen
Screenplay by: 
Anna Boden & Ryan Flect

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