Half Nelson (2006)




Ryan Fleck




Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps, Anthony Mackie, Monique Gabriela Curnen, Denis O'Hare, Starla Benford, Nathan Corbett, Tyra Kwao-Vovo, Jeff Lima, Karen Chilton, Deborah Rush, Jay O. Sanders, David Easton, Nicole Vicius, Collins Pennie, Tina Holes, Tristan Wilds, Erica Rivera


An inner-city junior high school teacher (Ryan Gosling) with a drug habit forms an unlikely friendship with one of his students (Shareeka Epps) after she discovers his secret.


There's so much hype surrounding this film, I was sure I was going to be disappointed. And I was disappointed for not having been disappointed. Kinda messed up, right? Anyway, "Half Nelson" is an impressive, moving and thought-provoking film made addictively compelling by the performances of its leads, Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps.

In his first film, Ryan Fleck does not just bring to the screen a story about the friendship between a drug-addicted teacher and one of his student, but a beautiful character study. He is not so interested in making a film about addiction itself, but he is rather interested in telling a story of everyday life, of people struggling with common problems that can sometimes push to extreme choices, such as substance abuse.

Fleck brilliantly uses the 106 minutes to slowly tell the story, and making it unfold in the most natural of the manners. Both the main characters are fully formed and developed, and we know enough of their lives to understand why they make the choices they make, and to develop an emotional bond with them, especially in the final part where their paths interwoven.

Ryan Gosling gives a sensitive portrait of the teacher, this man who hit the bottom and has no idea how to climb back up, and he also does an impressive job portraying a drug addict. Should he had won the Oscar? I don't know, I haven't seen Forest Whitaker's performance. Shareeka Epps, who I've seen for the first time in here, also gives a spectacular performances as Drey, Gosling's tough but extremely sensitive student/young friend.

Do I have a complaining? I sure have. The hand-held, shaky camera gets a little annoying after a while.

Mention-Worthy Quotes

Dan: Change moves in spirals, not circles. For example, the sun goes up and then it goes down. But everytime that happens, what do you get? You get a new day. You get a new one. When you breathe, you inhale and you exhale, but every single time that you do that you're a little bit different then the one before. We're always changing. And its important to know that there are some changes you can't control and that there are others you can.


  1. This is my favorite Gosling performance. I love this little film, but yeah, shaky cam does get a bit irritating.

  2. I love this one. I especially love the subsequent work of Ryan Fleck and his partner Anna Boden. Mississippi Grind, their latest film, was one of my 10 favorites last year. Such a solid, heartbreaking road movie/character study. Gosling really is great in this role. I should revisit seeing as how I'm now obsessed with him after The Nice Guys. He is comedy gold in that flick.

  3. I happy you were disappointed that you weren't disappointed. I think. In simpler terms, I'm glad you liked it. I really like this film and Gosling is amazing here.