Written and directed by Ryan Fleck, (Sugar (2008) It's Kind of a Funny Story (2010) Mississippi Grind (2014)), and co-written and produced by Fleck's collaborator Anna Boden. This drama was made for a meagre $700,000, and it's a powerful yet quietly emotional film which is a showcase for it's lead, whose star was on the rise since The Notebook (2004), this showed he has acting chops too. Set in Brooklyn, middle school teacher Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) has a very unconventional style of teaching, and he doesn't stick to the school's curriculum. While he seems to display confidence and control in the classroom, when he isn't teaching, Dan is frequently abusing drugs, mainly cocaine. However, when student Drey (Shareeka Epps). Drey doesn't say anything about it, she has troubles of her own at home, her mother Karen (Karen Chilton) is always at work, her brother Mike (Collins Pennie) is in jail for selling drugs to local dealer Frank (Anthony Mackie). However, Dan and Drey start a friendship, helping each other's problems. It's a well acted drama, and it's worth it for the performances from Gosling (who got an Oscar nomination), Epps and Mackie. It's not afraid to tackle a subject like this head on, but it does it with a sensitive touch, What could have been melodramatic and heavy handed proves to be sensitive and moving.