Half Nelson is a wonderfully human indie film about change, that stays with you to the end and right out the cinema doors. Without ever being one of those contrived “indie-quirk-quirk films”, about a burgeoning friendship of sorts between a drug addled teacher and his student; without being one of those “feelgood-goal inspiring-insipid Hollywood- teacher- inspires his- student films”. Dan, the teacher is well extremely played by Ryan Gosling (who was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance here) is a history teacher trying to enthuse and encourage his students to think outside the education system, and struggles to separate his job from his life and drug habit. They bleed into each other when one of his students, Drey played beautifully by Shareeka Epps, catches him getting high in the toilets after school. The characters in this film are well written and human. The camera work is mostly hand held, and framed too close at times, and that ends up restricting just how much we the audience are being let in.
The music for this film is made of lots great songs, but the instrumental standout of the film is done by that ever listenable band that provide the soundtrack for many real lives; Broken Social Scene.
Half Nelson is screening in some cinemas nationally, or if you have an all region DVD player you can just buy the film from amazon.
TWO Thumbs Up to: Half Nelson for being the kind of film that breaks your heart in slow motion.
(EDIT: sorry about the crapness of this review, the words aren’t quite coming tonight.)