A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.
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
(According to the filmmakers' commentary on the DVD) the film was shot hand-held, except for a short sequence in Dan Dunne's apartment. The sequence in Dunne's apartment happens when he is not there, and it contains all static shots. These static shots were shot on a tripod. See more »
Second chances are rare, man. You ought to take better advantage of them.
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I saw Half Nelson twice at the San Francisco International Film Festival and liked it even better the second time. Each actor is memorable and convincing. Ryan Gosling is amazing as Dan, a charismatic but drug addicted teacheran academy award level performance. Gosling was voted best actor at Sundance, 2006, in an IndieWire poll, which also picked Half Nelson as best film. Shareeka Epps is equally riveting as Drey, the student who learns his secret, voted best actress in the Sundance IndieWire poll. Epps also led the list of six of this year's breakthrough performances by the New York Times. Anthony Mackie is anything but predictable as a local drug dealer. Half Nelson packs an emotional wallop, but also has solid political and philosophical substance. Here are comments from ten viewers at the SF Festival where it won the International Critics Prize (FIPRESCI). This prize is established at international film festivals, and its aim is to promote film art and to particularly encourage new and young cinema.
"Intense, deep, human, scary, dark, sad, happy, hopeful, depressing, awesome. . ." "Great story. Great film. I enjoyed it a lot. A lot to learn from this film." "Wonderful character development (and great actors!) Very real movie." "Makes you think. Loved it." "Great acting to go along with the wonderful writing. I only hope they both make it through (Drey and Dan)." "Beautifully shot, beautifully acted, and just like life in which ideals can float on top of emotional turmoil and children teach teachers." "Outstanding. Very creative and absorbing." "Enjoyed the film, especially the close shots, which added to my initial discomfort and eventual resonance with the themes of closeness and discomfort." "Great movie. Lots of complex characters. Loved the historical political references." "Half Nelson isn't half bad! In fact, it's rather perfect."
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