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Movie Review: Half Nelson

June 25, 2007

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Half Nelson is a dark, dreary and depressing film. I knew this from the beginning, but it didn’t deter me, as these types of films are quite often my favorites. With the beautiful Summer weather taking a day off and allowing the clouds and rain to come out, I was in the perfect mood for a dramatic, not-so-upbeat type of film.Half Nelson was a movie I have greatly anticipated since I first saw the trailer probably over a year ago. I really enjoy Ryan Gosling’s work, and was very interested in his role as a crack addicted teacher of inner-city kids. He was nominated for Best Actor for this role, and that solidified my intent to see this film.

So, like I mentioned the film is about a heroin addicted History teacher and his connection with a young girl that he teaches. Gosling plays Dan Dunne, a young man who it seems became a teacher in hopes of changing the world, and making it a better place, and had grand views of what he would accomplish. His realization that this, of course, will not happen and that he is spending his time teaching a bunch of kids that have no interest in what he’s talking about, has turned him to drugs. With his newly-found depression, he uses his addiction to get him through a life he did not envision.

The film is mostly a downer, and not one to get you psyched on life, but as you painfully watch this young man fight to get through every day, you can also see how he is quickly finding you don’t need to change the world; that changing one person’s life can be quite the accomplishment in itself.

Ryan Gosling is incredible in this film, and is rightfully deserving of his Best Actor nomination.

If you liked Thirteen, The Machinist or The Woodsman, I would highly recommend checking out this movie. Or, if you simply appreciate a great performance and an extremely well-made film, then you can’t miss out on Half Nelson.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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