Half Nelson - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Half Nelson Reviews

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½ June 12, 2016
Brooklyn New York. Try not to notice the gentle camera shake throughout. Music by Broken Social Scene
February 15, 2016
Buen cine pero, insustancial. En cualquier caso, merece la pena solo por la actuación de Ryan Gosling.
January 29, 2016
The mature, hard hitting "Half Nelson" features Ryan Gosling in peak dramatic form.
December 28, 2015
Disjointed unhappiness.
½ December 18, 2015
So amazingly depressing, I can't even.... All the stars come from the performances....
November 20, 2015
Gosling tour de force.
½ October 9, 2015
Ryan Gosling has become synonymous with decent films; respect to him for being choosy and not auditioning to be the next spiderman. In this he's a teacher with a good connection to his students, one of which he befriends. The film is actually about this girl and her struggles. Good story and good performances.
½ September 28, 2015
Inspiring and heart-warming, this movie features a great performance from Ryan Gosling (who was nominated for the oscar that year).
With its powerful romantic sides as well as its dark sides this story can really touch you deep inside.
½ September 18, 2015
Depressing but well acted especially by Epps.
September 13, 2015
A story about addiction and inner failings Half Nelson is a great heartwarming story backed by two first class performances.
September 7, 2015
Beautiful and educational story, if you can tolerate the druggie stuff. All well that ends well? Ryan Gosling does always a good job in his roles.
½ August 5, 2015
Gosling's performance is top-notch, as would be expected from him. The film is weighed down a bit by the tired plot about a drug addict battling his personal demons, but the strength of the characters and performances, as well as the sharply-written script, carries the movie along at a moderate pace.
June 13, 2015
Great performances , Ryan G plays a vulnerable believable character
I did feel slightly disappointed at the abrupt ending . However a good film
April 19, 2015
One of Ryan Gosling' s best works. The other is Drive.
½ April 14, 2015
Beautiful performances from both Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps. Gosling even got an Oscar nomination.
February 6, 2015
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.
January 19, 2015
A little late in watching this one - but interesting to watch with the knowledge of the roles Gosling has taken on since. Half Nelson is quite a gritty film, filmed with a shaky camera style, and with a very different approach to the teacher working in a run down school than usual. Two characters in need of someone at important stages in their life, one a teacher and one a student. But they both seem to have something perhaps not to teach each other outside the classroom, but rather provide some support with simply living life.
½ January 13, 2015
Review In A Nutshell:

I have seen a number of films that revolve around teacher-student relationships; exceptional ones include School of Rock, Garden of Words, and The Class (Entre Les Murs). Half Nelson revolves around this relationship but adds elements of drugs and role-modelling into the mix. It tells the story of Dan Dunne, a history teacher who has a drug habit that he cannot seem to shake off, despite multiple trials of rehab and other alternative measures; he states that the children he teaches allow him to gain a sense of control in his habit, but he says this with a sense denial and slight delusion.

One night, one of his students (Drey) find him to be smoking, what I believe was crack, in the girl's locker room after a basketball game at their school; assuming that nobody would be present long after the game was over. This exposure of Dan's flaw to a student begins to make him worry, but instead it became like a friendship. Their relationship is based on mutual understanding of one another, seeing the flaws within themselves, and from Dan's standpoint, tries as much as he can to help and support her with many aspects of her personal life. Drey's clings on to Dan due to the emptiness within her caused by her constantly abandoning and unreliable father, Dan slowly filling that void and influencing her in a positive way. But Dan is not the only role model in Drey's life, with the presence of Jimbo, a friend of her jailed brother, showing her the ropes of his profession; slowly drawing her in and building his own mentor-like relationship with her. It was the battle between Jimbo and Dan for Drey's influence and admiration that kept me engaged; not knowing how it would all turn out, and whether which one would do something drastic first that would solidify her direction.

I did however feel that it spent too much time on Dan, when I personally felt that Drey had a lot more to lose. There was an internal tension inside her that would have been amazing if it was given enough time to explore, but the filmmakers were too fascinated with the Dan character, and the flaws that he carries, attempting to catch out sympathies in order to give the film an emotional weight. I also felt Jimbo's character was a little unexplored, displaying enough for audiences to understand his purpose, but not enough to make him a compelling character. It is sad because the performances brought by the actors were already great; they simply needed more time to flesh out. Though I did appreciate the filmmakers' ability to let the two leading males of Drey's life to not seem antagonistic, they are no doubt flawed, but it reminds us that all humans are, and that we should judge them on the good they bring to others rather than the bad that simply only affects them personally.

Half Nelson could have been a powerful drama, or a deeply affecting character study, but the film's characterisation flaws and misplaced focus prevented it from being so. Regardless, the film has its virtues through the performance of its cast and the tense battle for a young child's soul.
January 11, 2015
Nice indie flick that proved Gosling will be offering more fantastic performances in the future...
½ January 1, 2015
Well made... Just not my cup of tea.
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