Half Nelson (2006)

RYAN FLECK

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.  USA, 2006Hunting Lane Films, Journeyman Pictures, Silverwood Films, Original Media, Traction Media, Verisimilitude. Screenplay by Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden.  Cinematography by Andrij Parekh.  Produced by Anna Boden, Rosanne Korenberg, Alex Orlovksy, Jamie Patricof.  Music by Broken Social Scene.  Production Design by Beth Mickle.  Costume Design by Erin Benach.  Film Editing by Anna Boden.  Academy Awards 2006. American Film Institute 2006.    Gotham Awards 2006. Independent Spirit Awards 2006. New York Film Critics Awards 2006.  

Ryan Fleck expands his short film Gowanus, Brooklyn to feature-length in this absorbing drama. Ryan Gosling is excellent as a junior high school teacher whose aimless drug addiction catches up with him when a student () with problems of her own see him doping himself up in a school change room.  The two begin to spend more time together, and their being forced to see their own lives from another perspective has an affect on the choices they make in dealing with their own issues.  Fleck’s Von Trier-esque camera work is terrific, as are the performances (however good Gosling is, Epps matches and outdoes him), but it’s a bit obvious that the short film’s emotional arc hasn’t been expanded for the feature and the film runs longer than the viewer is prepared for.   has a wonderful supporting role as Gosling’s former hippie mother, and the dialogue is top notch.

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