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Half Nelson (2006)

 -  Drama  -  11 August 2006 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 64,361 users   Metascore: 85/100
Reviews: 187 user | 204 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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Cast

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

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

11 August 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Half Nelson - Encurralados  »

Box Office

Budget:

$700,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$2,694,973 (USA) (8 December 2006)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

(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 »

Quotes

Dan: Who might say that Aristotle's wrong, right? But that doesn't make any sense; these things need each other. The idea that... that all God's creations are perfect, perfect - so just to suggest that - that a tree it's - it's crooked and it's straight... it's strong and it's weak... is to suggest that - that God created something imperfect. They do however acknowledge it in people; we are sinners but we can strive to be good just not in nature itself I guess.
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Connections

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

Soundtracks

Da Da Dada
Written and Performed by Broken Social Scene
Published by Arts & Crafts Music
Licensed Courtesy of Arts & Crafts Records
From the album "Feel Good Lost"
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User Reviews

 
Saving Oneself
17 February 2007 | by (Orlando, Florida, USA) – See all my reviews

Ryan Gosling gives an off-the-charts, startling, emotionally charged performance as Dan Dunne, a young and unhappy man who is disenchanted with the world and himself.

The camera follows every emotion that surfaces in Dan's mind and face and soul; we watch him spend every waking moment pondering life and its intricate hypocrisies, intolerance, and continuous disappointments, we watch him spend every waking moment pondering his own personal failings and let-downs, we watch him spend every waking moment trying to escape his anguish through drug abuse, and we watch him spend every waking moment mentally and physically punishing himself for his failings by engaging in drug abuse.

In addition to the abuse of drugs, his emotional decline is accelerated by his career as a history teacher (and coach) in an inner-city run-down school where a few, if any, students graduate highschool, let alone advance to college. We readily discern that he has given up all attempts at trying to reach out and inspire his students to fight against the injustices and misinformation that exist in the world.

His mental anguish and desolation and severe alienation, melded with rampant drug use, has nearly destroyed him.

His only hope of survival is being inspired by one of his own students, Drey - whom he has made an incongruous connection with - to save himself.

As Drey (Shareeka Epps) struggles to accept Dan's failings - in the hope that a friendship with him will help both of them overcome their circumstances - she unwittingly leads Dan further down the path of self-destruction, which can only end with a clarifying moment of salvation or untimely death...

Half Nelson is a masterpiece film, emotionally purgative and hypnotically realistic; its depiction of people who only experience fleeting moments of happiness in a retrogressive, bleak world is so realistic that it is visually and spiritually and emotionally soul-shattering.


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