Ryan Gosling (‘The Notebook’, ‘Blue Valentine’) delivers his Academy Award-nominated performance in HALF NELSON as an inspirational young secondary school teacher who is wrestling inner demons.

Director: Ryan Fleck
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps, Anthony Mackie
Duration: 106 mins
Country of Origin: United States

MA15+Strong drug use and themes

Half Nelson

“Brilliant. A shuddering, soulful achievement.”
Craig Mathieson, THE BULLETIN

“Untouchably brilliant.”
Leigh Paatsch, THE HERALD SUN

“An emotional tour-de-force.”
Erin Free, FILMINK

“Terrific, complex and compelling… Gosling is extraordinary.”
Philippa Hawker, THE AGE


Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) teaches history in a Brooklyn junior high, where his deviation from the standard curriculum (into areas of politics, philosophy & life) makes him more popular with his students than with the school’s principal. Sharp and engaging in class, Dan struggles with his own demons in his personal life. The fragile separation between his two worlds finally breaks down when he’s discovered collapsed in the school’s locker room by a thirteen-year-old student (Shareeka Epps).

What follows is an unexpected friendship, but one which is very believable, thanks in no small part to the terrific performances of Epps, wonderfully understated as the old head on vulnerable young shoulders, and the auspiciously talented Gosling, simply heartbreaking as the idealist hell-bent on self destruction.

Appealingly personal and steadfastly un-melodramatic, Ryan Fleck’s impressive debut feature neatly sidesteps the pitfalls of the inspirational classroom drama and favours an altogether wittier and credible approach. Underscored by the particular ambience of its Brooklyn setting, and a judicious soundtrack including original compositions by Broken Social Scene, HALF NELSON is smart, moving, politically engaged and brings a welcome freshness to a familiar theme.

  Half Nelson