Half Nelson


Half Nelson

Critics Consensus

Half Nelson features powerful performances from Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps. It's a wise, unsentimental portrait of lonely people at the crossroads.



Total Count: 157


Audience Score

User Ratings: 56,521
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Movie Info

Dan Dunne is an idealistic inner-city junior high school teacher. Although he can get it together in the classroom, he spends his time outside school on the edge of consciousness. He juggles his hangovers and his homework, keeping his lives precariously separated, until one of his troubled students, Drey, catches him in a compromising situation. From this awkward beginning, Dan and Drey stumble into an unexpected friendship that threatens either to undo them, or to provide the vital change they both need to move forward in their lives.

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Critic Reviews for Half Nelson

All Critics (157) | Top Critics (43)

Audience Reviews for Half Nelson

  • Oct 04, 2013
    Gosling truly emerges as a great actor in this film. He is the flawed teacher who continues to intrigue us with those flaws which lead to unpredictable actions. A great character sketch.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 22, 2013
    A no easy answer character study, Half Nelson is moved by brilliant performances by Gosling and Epps that, surprisingly, don't work for having an interesting arc but rather by making us feel unconfortable on by being put onto their daily routines, addictions and issues. Not having happy endings or many glimpses of hope is the biggest selling point of the flick, which won't be the cup of tea for many viewers but it worked for me. Worth a shot if you're into grittier indie dramas.
    Francisco G Super Reviewer
  • Apr 27, 2013
    Half Nelson has a very good story with some great performances, especially from the always-incredible Ryan Gosling. It's about a schoolteacher who teaches poor kids in a city slum, and the teacher (played by Ryan Gosling) happens to be a crack addict. He develops a relationship with one of his students who gets herself involved with things Dan Dunne (the teacher) would rather her not get involved in. Eventually, their secret lives collide, and it's an amazing thing to see, topped by a nicely fitting soundtrack. The film is very discrete in the way it unfolds the truths about each of it's characters, but it managed to keep me interested all the way through thanks to Gosling's great performance. There's also a lot of deep and valuable meaning hidden underneath Mr. Dunne's teachings, and also in the very last scene. Overall, Half Nelson is a very well-written and wonderfully-acted movie. Final Score: 8.5.
    Kevin M Super Reviewer
  • Jan 19, 2013
    An emotional drama with a great performance by Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson didn't engage me quite as well as I expected it to, but it's still a good movie. The movie didn't seem to have much going on in it; it moved at a snail's pace, which is understandable to a certain degree, but even in a drama like this I expect the plot to move forward at a reasonable rate. Nonetheless, Half Nelson does have a number of good performances and a good script, and it's still a well-made movie, but it might not completely hold your interest during the slower portions.
    Joey S Super Reviewer

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