Indie Gems: Half Nelson

The movie that reminded everyone that Ryan Gosling is a serious actor.

I think a lot of viewer's first exposure to Gosling was in 2004's The Notebook. It certainly was for me. I had seen films he had small parts in before, but the first time I actually noticed him was The Notebook. Those who caught him in 2001's The Believer already knew he was good, but I didn't have a fully formed opinion yet. Then came 2006's Half Nelson, which Gosling received an Oscar nomination for.

Dan (Ryan Gosling) is an 8th grade history teacher at an inner city school in Brooklyn. He tries to inspire his students by going a bit off course with his teachings. In reality, Dan is a hard drug addict who doesn't think rehab will suit him. One of students, Drey (the wonderful Shareeka Epps) catches him smoking crack in the girls locker room. She's got issues of her own. Absent father, workaholic mother, brother who's recently been sent to prison on drug charges. They form a relationship that is rocky at times, but ultimately it's meant to help on another.

Ryan Gosling is phenomenal in this to say the least. Him and his co-star, Epps give great performances. When I was initially watching this in theaters, a few of my friends thought something inappropriate might happen between Dan and Drey. I never got that feeling, I thought their platonic relationship was beautiful in the end. They made it through. I appreciated the symbolic ending as well. Going through an addiction is a hard thing, and while we want everyone to succeed and over come them, sometimes we just don't know.

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "One thing doesn't make a man." - Dan (Ryan Gosling)


  1. Gosling and Epps were terrific in the film, but I'd also mention Anthony Mackie, who's my pick for Best Supporting Actor of 2006.

  2. This sounds like a good movie. I didn't see The Notebook, as I am not a Nicholas Sparks fan. I first saw Gosling in Lars and the Real Girl. Love that movie!

  3. I remember wanting to see this film years ago and randomly it came on TV late at night. Luckily, it was so long ago I was still in school then, so it didn't matter if I stayed up to watch it!

    Needless to say, I loved it and it is now one of my firm-favourites. Loved your review!


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