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Half Nelson (2006)

R  |   |  Drama  |  22 September 2006 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 67,620 users   Metascore: 85/100
Reviews: 189 user | 205 critic | 31 from

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.


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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 35 wins & 33 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tyra Kwao-Vovo ...
Rosemary Ledee ...
Bryce Silver ...
Kaela C. Pabon ...
Erica Rivera ...
Erika (as Erika Rivera)
Eleanor Hutchins ...


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


Secrets don't let go.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 September 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Half Nelson - Encurralados  »

Box Office


$700,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$53,983 (USA) (11 August 2006)


$2,694,973 (USA) (8 December 2006)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film's title "Half Nelson" refers to a wrestling hold in which one arm is passed under the opponent's arm from behind to the back of the neck. See more »


Drey: What do you call cheese that's not yours?
Dan: What?
Drey: Nacho cheese.
See more »


Featured in 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (2007) See more »


Written by Samuel Gilbert and Darius Leon
Performed by Samuel Gilbert
Courtesy of Allido Records
Under license from Strange Music
See more »

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User Reviews

8 July 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Anyone who has experienced addiction in their lives, whether your own or someone close to you, will find this film cutting. It is not about the reasons leading to addiction or the recovery, rather it is about the experience of the addiction in its raw reality. Even if you have not experienced addiction in your life, the story is worthwhile and the photography stellar. Ryan Gosling is the perfect portrait of a good person who got lost. His portrayal of a crack head is almost too good. The dialog is not pretentious or assuming and not overused. The story unfolds itself in a very natural manner.

Highly recommended.

196 of 243 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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