Half Nelson - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Half Nelson Reviews

Top Critic
Bob Mondello
NPR.org
October 18, 2008
Ryan Gosling's self-destructive teacher is easily the year's most mesmerizing character study. And he's hardly the only reason to see this film. Shareeka Epps anchors her scenes as Drey with a self-possession way beyond her years.
Top Critic
Dave Calhoun
Time Out
October 30, 2006
Gosling and Epps, an unusual but effective pairing, show real commitment in their performances.
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
October 20, 2006
The movie comes down to Gosling's spot-on performance and how we feel about it.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
October 7, 2006
Gosling is indeed amazing as a bewildered, depressed New York schoolteacher who is slipping into dire drug addiction; it's exactly the kind of star turn in a smaller film that Academy voters could (and should) notice.
Top Critic
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
October 6, 2006
Although the subject promises more than the film can deliver, there is compensation in Gosling's convincing, unromanticized portrayal of someone seeking escape from longing and loss that neither he nor the movie can really define.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Bob Longino
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
September 21, 2006
For a solid 107 minutes, Gosling shapes his character into a flesh-and-blood tone poem.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Amy Biancolli
Houston Chronicle
September 15, 2006
It'll be weeks before I shake off [Gosling's] performance -- or the shadows of this small, extraordinary narrative-feature debut from filmmaking partners Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Michael Booth
Denver Post
September 15, 2006
The tone is even and thorough, the performances restrained and believable, the implied future bleak yet somehow satisfying.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
September 15, 2006
One might also argue that a crack addict couldn't be responsible enough to be a good teacher, but he's the most believable protagonist in any American movie I've seen this year.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
September 14, 2006
Ryan Gosling is electrifying in the role, delivering a performance that is sure to catapult him into the front ranks of stardom.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
September 14, 2006
A wholly absorbing and delicately shaded portrait of an educator played by Ryan Gosling, a young man harboring an offstage secret.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Tom Keogh
Seattle Times
September 8, 2006
In the endlessly surprising Half Nelson, all those upbeat, Hollywood clichés about well-meaning outsiders making a difference are turned on their heads.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
September 8, 2006
Gosling anchors the picture, and Epps ... has a kind of grace, presence and knowingness that far more experienced actors struggle vainly to find.
| Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
September 8, 2006
Gritty and terrifically human, Half Nelson is not your big brother's Hollywood high school movie.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Richard Nilsen
Arizona Republic
September 7, 2006
It's interested in how real people, not movie characters, might act in the situation. It is about all the gray areas, all the complexities, all the layers of meaning.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
August 31, 2006
The key to the direction of all the performances is tactful restraint and nuanced modulation.
Top Critic
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
August 26, 2006
Made with assurance, restraint and psychological acuity by director Ryan Fleck and anchored by Ryan Gosling's commanding performance, this paradigmatic American independent feature approaches recurring themes in a compelling new way.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Top Critic
Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
August 25, 2006
Half Nelson gives the musty theme a full twist, and what emerges seems remarkably fresh. And yet mature too.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
August 25, 2006
Nearly every scene rings with its own ragged truth.
Top Critic
Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star
August 25, 2006
Beneath the familiar veneer is a film of profound depths and churning undercurrents, and the result is a stark portrait of a world where nothing comes easy but just giving up.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Ruthe Stein
San Francisco Chronicle
August 25, 2006
Gosling inhabits Dan with every feature of his face and particle of his body and soul.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
August 25, 2006
One of the main strengths of Half Nelson is the plainspoken way it conveys the miseries of its people.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
Top Critic
Scott Foundas
L.A. Weekly
August 24, 2006
It all feels uncomfortably real, because we've known someone just like this, or maybe been him ourselves.
Top Critic
Claudia Puig
USA Today
August 18, 2006
A compelling drama that establishes Ryan Gosling as one of the finest actors of his generation.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
August 14, 2006
You're going to have to look for it. But please look for this movie.
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Dana Stevens
Slate
August 12, 2006
This is a film that knows something about how hope, when it comes, is always a surprise.
Top Critic
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
August 12, 2006
Half Nelson certainly sees things in a new way. Unfortunately, it doesn't see them very clearly.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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John Anderson
Newsday
August 12, 2006
Amid all the might-have-been cliches, director Ryan Fleck and his co-screenwriter, Anna Boden, give us a movie about history and destiny.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Kyle Smith
New York Post
August 12, 2006
Mostly, we just watch the teacher get high, and his classroom talks about civil rights are nothing but filler.
| Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
August 12, 2006
Ryan Fleck's Half Nelson is one of the most compelling and idea-laden American indie films to come along in a while, and it features one of this year's finest performances from Ryan Gosling.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Manohla Dargis
New York Times
August 10, 2006
Half Nelson is that rarest of marvels: an American fiction film that wears its political heart on its sleeve.
| Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
Scott Tobias
AV Club
August 10, 2006
For director Ryan Fleck, co-writer/producer/editor Anna Boden, and their remarkable cast, the solution is to underplay every scene and let the central character's ambiguities set a rocky course for the movie to follow.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
Top Critic
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
August 9, 2006
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.
Full Review | Original Score: A
Top Critic
Rob Nelson
Village Voice
August 8, 2006
Half Nelson drags the crowd-pleasing white-teacher-inspires-black-students movie onto the mat and pins the flabby genre in the first round.
Top Critic
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
August 7, 2006
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.
Top Critic
Rex Reed
New York Observer
August 3, 2006
The scalding talents of the moody, introspective young actor Ryan Gosling are sharply focused in Half Nelson, elevating an otherwise slight and depressingly offbeat film high above the realm of the ordinary with blast-furnace force.
Top Critic
Dennis Lim
Village Voice
March 22, 2006
Sardonic yet moving, Half Nelson deftly outlines the perils of youthful idealism without lapsing into knee-jerk cynicism.
Top Critic
James Greenberg
Hollywood Reporter
January 31, 2006
Ryan Gosling establishes himself as a major talent and one of the finest young actors around.
Top Critic
Dennis Harvey
Variety
January 24, 2006
A terrific performance by Ryan GoslingRyan Gosling is the chief but hardly sole reason to embrace Half Nelson.