A Brooklyn schoolteacher with a drug addiction befriends one of his students.
Forget everything you know about Ryan Gosling, said Lisa Schwarzbaum in Entertainment Weekly. The former Mouseketeer is best known for his role as the male lead in the sappy chick flick The Notebook. But now, as an inner-city teacher struggling to keep a drug habit in check in Half Nelson, Gosling proves himself to be 'œthe most exciting actor of his generation.' It helps that he's been given such a juicy role, said Rob Nelson in The Village Voice. Dan Dunne is an inspirational white teacher in a largely black classroom, but don't worry, it's not one of those movies. Actually, Half Nelson turns the whole Stand and Deliver genre on its head. By day, Mr. Dunne teaches his class the history of the civil-rights movement, bucking the system and the principal's staid attitude. By night, however, Dunne is a cocaine addict. When he's discovered slumped over in a bathroom stall after basketball practice by one of his students, young Drey (Shareeka Epps) becomes the savior and Dunne the lost soul. This film's philosophy is fresh and honest, said Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. Director Ryan Fleck and his co-writer and life partner Anna Boden offer 'œa lament for the radical fires of the 1960s.' Like Dunne, the filmmakers wish that idealists could change the world. If only those idealists would stop doing blow.