Half Nelson
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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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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"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."
‑ Bob Mondello, NPR.org
"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."
‑ Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com
"A fantastic merging of talents into a pure piece of art..."
‑ Felix Vasquez Jr., Cinema Crazed
"The filmmakers bask disingenuously in their tidy vision of border-busting healing"
‑ Fernando F. Croce, CinePassion
"Gosling is up for an Oscar (R) for his work in Half Nelson, and there's no question he earned the nomination."
‑ Heather Huntington, ReelzChannel.com
"Gosling and Epps, an unusual but effective pairing, show real commitment in their performances."
‑ Dave Calhoun, Time Out
"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."
‑ Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press
"Indie inner-city drama with drug-addict teacher."
‑ Charles Cassady, Common Sense Media
"A sometimes subtle, sometimes bombastic (Gosling's performance ranges from brilliant to bug-eyed) parable about class, race, power, and the dialectics of family relationships."
‑ Peter Keough, Boston Phoenix
"Half Nelson trades melodrama for authenticity, cliche heroics for genuine heart, cheap cinematic parlor tricks for blessed restraint."
‑ Brandon Fibbs, BrandonFibbs.com
"The movie comes down to Gosling's spot-on performance and how we feel about it."
‑ Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel
"For a solid 107 minutes, Gosling shapes his character into a flesh-and-blood tone poem."
‑ Bob Longino, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
""Half Nelson" elegantly tiptoe around its elephant in the room: Dan's most compelling instruction to not let Drey enter the drug trade is his own destruction. That point of panic turns into something approaching penance."
‑ Nick Rogers, Suite101.com
"The movie hits a stream of false notes when Dunne's students deliver oral reports on Civil Rights struggles that could only have been plagiarized. The film's ending isn't only meager, it's utterly listless."
‑ Cole Smithey, ColeSmithey.com
"We've gotten so close to these characters (and they to each other) that we don't want to let them go."
‑ Joe Lozito, Big Picture Big Sound
More reviews for Half Nelson on Rotten Tomatoes

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