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Half Nelson (2006)

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An inner-city junior high school teacher with a drug habit forms an unlikely friendship with one of his students after she discovers his secret.

Director:

Ryan Fleck
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 29 wins & 47 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ryan Gosling ... Dan Dunne
Jeff Lima ... Roodly
Shareeka Epps ... Drey
Nathan Corbett ... Terrance
Tyra Kwao-Vovo Tyra Kwao-Vovo ... Stacy
Rosemary Ledee Rosemary Ledee ... Gina
Tristan Mack Wilds ... Jamal (as Tristan Wilds)
Bryce Silver Bryce Silver ... Bernard
Kaela C. Pabon Kaela C. Pabon ... Lena
Erica Rivera Erica Rivera ... Erika (as Erika Rivera)
Stephanie Bast ... Vanessa
Eleanor Hutchins ... Simone
Sebastian Sozzi ... Javier
Tina Holmes ... Rachel
Karen Chilton ... Karen
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Storyline

Young Caucasian Dan Dunne teaches history and coaches the girls basketball team at a Brooklyn high school populated primarily by black and Hispanic students. To the chagrin of his superiors, Dan bucks the outlined curriculum of historical facts in favor of the philosophy of historical events, generally discussing the concept of dialectics. As such, he captures the imagination of his students, at least in the classroom. Outside of the classroom, Dan's life is in shambles. He has a distant but cordial relationship with his family. He uses illicit drugs rampantly. Although his former girlfriend Rachel was able to clean up her drug habit, Dan believes that rehab will not work for him. Due to a combination of these issues, he treats women poorly. Thirteen year old Drey is a student in his class and a player on his basketball team. Drey has her own problems. Her parents are divorced, with her father a virtually non-existent figure in her life and her EMT mother generally absent as she is ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Secrets don't let go.

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug content throughout, language and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 September 2006 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fél Nelson See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$700,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$53,983, 13 August 2006

Gross USA:

$2,697,938

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,660,481
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was shot in 23 days and finished one day ahead of schedule. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Dan: Knock, knock.
Drey: Who's there?
Dan: The Interrupting Cow.
Drey: The Interrupting Cow, who?
Dan: [realizing he's blown the joke] ... Moooooo.
Drey: [laughing] That was horrible!
See more »

Connections

References The Oprah Winfrey Show (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

Just Begun
Written by Max Lawrence
Performed by King Honey featuring Baby Blak
Published by Carquill Music
Courtesy of Sound-Ink Records, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Ryan Gosling Film
23 June 2008 | by he_who_leadsSee all my reviews

Dan (Ryan Gosling) is a drug-addicted high school history teacher. Drey (Shareeka Epps) is one of his students, who can see herself possibly following in her brother's footsteps and working for a local drug dealer. Dan and Drey strike up a friendship.

Dan is a smart, fundamentally decent man leading a life of quiet desperation. His ex-gf, Rachel (Tina Holmes), tells him that some people get better, and Dan is adamant in his response. Not him. Change is not for him. To another girl, he explains how he tried rehab, but it doesn't work for him. And yet Dan's desire for change is shown in his lessons to his students. He constantly describes opposites - up and down, left and right - and talks about change. From one breath to your next breath, change has happened. And yet Dan's affliction just provides more and more of the same.

The film is all about Ryan Gosling, who gives us a complete portrait of his character. You just can't take your eyes off of this guy. Whether babbling under the influence or talking with real passion to his students or just sitting quietly saying nothing at all, Gosling shows us a man, who has a lot to give, but is held down by his affliction. The out-of-nowhere flashes of humour and the many moments of vulnerability completely endear us to Dan. His friendship with Drey arouses moral instincts in him that brings his self-loathing and helplessness more to the surface. We understand Dan, and our understanding of him is mirrored in the eyes of all the supporting characters, played out by a perfect ensemble cast. So much is conveyed just in the briefest character exchanges.

So the film succeeds with strong performances and making sure all the pieces fit together with respect and care. And yet the finished puzzle isn't really as gripping as it should be. Maybe because we've been through this material before, or maybe because this is a film that lives through its many small moments and observations. With tense character-driven material like this, I was sort of expecting more flash and meltdown, but this isn't that sort of film. This is a film, where you can admire the focus, commitment, and quality, but its a slow burn - not a big jolt to the system.


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