One description of the movie Half Nelson I related to was ‘unsentimental’. This movie does not offer answers instead it reflects what the actor Gosling does in his role as a middle-school history teacher (as seen in the video below) which is ‘dialectics’ in concept and dialogical in implementation. 26 year-old Gosling was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance here.
Despite his dedication to the junior-high students who fill his classroom, idealistic teacher Dan Dunne leads a secret life of addiction that the majority of his students will never know. But things change when a troubled student Drey makes a startling discovery of his secret life, causing a tenuous bond between the two that could either end disastrously or provide a catalyst of hope.
The film grossed $2,697,938 in North America and $1,962,543 internationally for a worldwide gross of $4,660,481. The film’s budget was $700,000. The film has overwhelmingly positive critical reviews with an approval rating of 90%. I saw this just after it came out at the cinema and I was so impressed by its authenticity because it avoids the inspirational cliches. The film shows with astonishing clarity, the complexity of a talented man dragged down by a legacy of good intentions and addiction.
There is another fine movie about someone tormented by crack-cocaine which I revisited again recently called The Fighter by David Russell although that is not as nuanced and realistic as Half Nelson it satisfied a larger commercial base. Half Nelson is one of those few movies which lingered in my psyche well after seeing it although I second-guess’d if I enjoyed the movie. I related to it from personal experience.
Dan played by Gosling is filled with the kind of optimism that many of us had coming right out of college, when we cared passionately about our beliefs and believed we could make others care as much about them. However, Dan’s promise as a teacher is severely limited by his addiction to crack, which consumes his personal life.
The film was shot in 23 days and finished one day ahead of schedule…..Gosling moved to New York for one month before shooting began, immersing himself in the life of his character. He lived in a small apartment in Brooklyn and spent time shadowing 8th grade teacher David Easton.
1. Half Nelson: Wikipedia
My son loves this movie…I’ve seen it in spurts but I need to watch it all.
It’s not easy going, but it’s as real as it gets.
Hey Max have you and son seen latest Top Gun? Drop all tools if you haven’t seen it. This is a must in the cinema and it’s not even from the genre I like. You really have to see this. This is master-class film making.
Bailey saw Top Gun and liked it.
I was really surprised that he liked it as much as he did…and now you! Ok…I will catch it.
It is like Episode 4 Star Wars revisited, but on another level in terms of scope. I didn’t think they could make movies like this anymore as the critical drinker said ‘F’ /k yeh’! But it has to be seen in the cinema. You will probably appreciate it more than your son because of the generation of movie it represents.
I’m like you….it was never my genre but I’ll give it a try.
I had read the reviews but because the genre, nor the original movie is not my scene that they wouldn’t live up to the hype. I got that wrong.
Ryan Gosling, a very fine actor. I’ve heard of this movie, but have never seen it. Now, I’ll look for it. Thanks for sharing, Matthew!