Movie Review – Half Nelson (2006)


It is a critically acclaimed movie that explores the life of a History teacher, his unconventional friendship with one of his students and his troubled personal life.

Ryan Gosling plays the history teacher who has unconventional ways of teaching the subject which makes him gain the acceptance of the students (mostly Blacks & Hispanics) in his class.The movie shows his drug addiction, troubled past and ties with his family.

After a 13 year old student discovers him doing drugs in the girls locker room, they begin an unlikely friendship. Both have troubled personal lives and find solace in each others’ company.

The pace of the movie is very very slow and requires a lot of effort to keep awake. It’s difficult to understand the reason behind the critical acclaim or the IMDB rating of the movie except Ryan Gosling’s acting as a history teacher.

Give it a miss unless you love ruan Gosling, like super slow movies or need a catalyst for sleep.

Trivia:

  • IMDB Rating – 7.4/10
  • The film was shot in 23 days and finished one day ahead of schedule.
  • The film’s title “Half Nelson” refers to a wrestling hold in which one arm is passed under the opponent’s arm from behind to the back of the neck.
  • Although it was produced and shot in New York City, the Toronto band Broken Social Scene is featured prominently on the soundtrack. Broken Social Scene even recorded some original music for the film.
  • The Dan Dunne character was originally written to be in his mid-thirties. However, the filmmakers changed this to accommodate Ryan Gosling’s age. Gosling was 25 years old at the time of filming.
  • Was originally made as the short film Gowanus, Brooklyn (2004), which won an award at the Sundance Film FestivalShareeka Epps and Karen Chilton reprise their roles as Drey and Drey’s mother. Matt Kerr, who plays the substitute teacher Mr. Light in this film, played Mr. Dunne in the original short.
  • Rachel McAdams came to visit the set during the filming of the bar scene. Running low on bar extras, to help the producers out Rachel hopped in to help make the bar look busy. Her scene never makes the final cut.
  • The school used in the film (with the bright “Neon Celery” and “Key Lime” colored classroom doors), was painted by students from the school through an innovative nonprofit youth development program called Publicolor in NYC.
  • Dan picking up the cat before going into Frank’s house was unrehearsed. Ryan Goslingsaw the stray cat during the filming to the scene, and picked it up. Because Dan’s cat died a few scenes before, the filmmakers thought it was perfect for the film and put it in the final cut.
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