June 2, 2007

Half Nelson - $10

Dan Dunne is an inner-city junior high school teacher in Brooklyn who is trying to inspire his 13 and 14-year-old students to see history as more than just dates and events.

Dan is a living example of the worldview he is teaching his students; a worldview that sees history not just as individual events but as the slow change brought on by opposing forces. Though Dan is in control in the classroom, his personal life is very much out of control due to a serious drug habit. Drey, one of Dan's troubled students, catches him in the act after school and an awkward and yet touching friendship is started.

Half Nelson is a great character movie. Several of the acting performances are subtle and powerful but none as much as Ryan Gosling's portrayal of Dan Dunne. The Academy got something right for once by picking out his performance in this small festival movie and nominating him for best actor. They got it wrong by not giving him the award but at least hey recognized his work.

This movie was an intense look at a person who is teetering on the edge of control trying to deal with his inability to change the world around him.

Great writing and directing compliment the solid performances in Half Nelson which is also rounded out by a fantastic sound track. This is a movie that should not be missed.

I emphatically put Half Nelson on my 'Watch It' list and give a value of $10.