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Half Nelson (2006)

R  |   |  Drama  |  22 September 2006 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 68,105 users   Metascore: 85/100
Reviews: 189 user | 206 critic | 31 from Metacritic.com

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 27 wins & 41 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?


Although it was produced and shot in New York City, the Toronto band Broken Social Scene is featured prominently on the soundtrack. Broken Social Scene even recorded some original music for the film. See more »


[from trailer]
Dan: The sun goes up and then it comes down, but everytime that happens what do you get? You get a new day.
See more »


Featured in Maltin on Movies: Back to School Special (2012) See more »


Haciendo Algo
Written by Soandres del Rio Ferrer and Alexy Cantero Perez
Performed by Hermanos de Causa
Courtesy of Hermanos de Causa
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User Reviews

Awaking To Ryan Gosling
2 January 2008 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

Ryan Gosling made happen what happens only once every so often. Made me look at what I seen before under a new magnifying light. He took me with him and showed me, with the most astonishing clarity, the complexity of a talented man dragged down by a legacy of good intentions and addiction. We're permitted to visit his family once and we understand what he's fighting with without any weapons. He doesn't blame anyone but he's the result of his own DNA and he knows it. His bright moments, the explanation of what History is for instance, is a glimpse into the man he could actually be, fully. The humanity that Ryan Gosling lends to his character on his darker moments it's as chillingly real as it is moving. The chemistry he establishes with the wonderful Shareeka Epps is as powerful as the one he established with me. I want to meet him, I want to meet Dan and while I was thinking that I realize I know him already. He lives next door to me, he's related to me, I was his friend. This is what superb performances do. They re-awake you.

107 of 122 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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