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.
Julian, a drug-smuggler thriving in Bangkok's criminal underworld, sees his life get even more complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother's recent death.
Nicolas Winding Refn
Kristin Scott Thomas,
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
The school used in the film (with the bright "Neon Celery" and "Key Lime" colored classroom doors), was painted by students from the school through an innovative nonprofit youth development program called Publicolor in NYC. See more »
[after seeing one of the students cheating on the test]
Unbelievable! What you're doing?
See more »
"Ryan Gosling stars as Dan Dunne, a young teacher whose edgy yet brilliant approach to history inspires his inner-city students to think for themselves. But, outside the classroom, Dan's life is spiraling out of control. Wrestling with inner demons and nursing a serious drug habit, Dan finally hits rock bottom - witnessed by one of his troubled students, Drey (Shareeka Epps). With an unlikely friendship built on a shared secret, Dan tries to steer her away from a small-time drug dealer (Anthony Mackie). But no matter which way they turn to survive, their lives will change forever," according to the film's official synopsis.
"Half Nelson" suffers from too much of the wobbly "hand held" camera technique which, frankly, isn't necessary to make the film look more realistic. Yet, the story, by director Ryan Fleck and partner Anna Boden, and characterizations are good enough to overcome this distraction. The marvelously written screenplay is full of nuances, which serve the main point - showing the interconnecting ways drug addiction can infect the human spirit, when people like those played by Mr. Gosling and Ms. Epps are needed to play much more positive roles in a troubled world.
Gosling's "Academy Award" nomination for "Best Actor" is clearly understandable; and, Epps could have easily won some "Best Supporting Actress" consideration. At least, the "Independent Spirit Awards" recognized the memorable pair's delicately played teacher/student roles. Everyone else in the cast is excellent, as well. And, the non-melodramatic ending leaves "Half Nelson" full of hope.
******* Half Nelson (3/22/06) Ryan Fleck ~ Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps, Anthony Mackie, Monique Gabriela Curnen
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