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Half Nelson

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Seriously, when are we going to stop the silliness when it comes to applauding something that bewilders? If it seems ‘Just OK’, then it most likely is – you’re not missing anything.


Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps, Anthony Mackie, Monique Curnen, Karen Chilton, Tina Holmes, Collins Pennie, Deborah Rush, Jay O. Sanders

More like ‘Half’ a good movie.

Seriously, when are we going to stop the silliness when it comes to applauding something that bewilders? If it seems ‘Just OK’, then it most likely is – you’re not missing anything.

No, “Half Nelson” isn’t that fabulous (there’s no pivotal undercoat); No, the story isn’t that fresh (its true – say it aloud!); and No, the direction couldn’t have much better if it had been handled by a traffic cop. Time to tilt the toffee nose down, put the glass of ’’67 chardonnay to the side, and say it how it is peoples. Too often critics feel that they’ve got to cave into saying something’s absolutely grand and magnificent, because, well, it seems to be the pattern. I say no more.

Bottom Line: “Half Nelson” is a reasonable movie with a terrific performance by its lead actor. Ryan Gosling’s turn in the film is so commendable; that it tricks you into believing the rest of the film – from the so-so script, to the passé plotting – is just as solid. It ain’t.

Don’t get me wrong; “Nelson” is a good movie. At times, it borders on being very good (if even briefly). For the most part though, it’s an old tale. A tale that has been done a million times before. Because it’s been done cheap – which these days translates to being ‘arty’ – and because the lead actor had really thrown himself into the role (so much so that he looks like he’s just been resurrected from a morgue counter), you immediately suspect there’s more going on here, that you’ve seemingly overlooked. You haven’t. It’s just like “Dreamgirls” – great performance/s, OK movie.

Dan (Gosling) is a young highschool teacher, working at a mostly coloured school; who’s got a major drug habit. When one of his students busts him smoking crack, it’s the beginning of a close friendship. In turn, what he does with his life….will in some respect, affect hers.

The problem with the film is that it allows for too much ‘filler’ – too many scenes of the teacher getting high and too many scenes of kids in the classroom – and not enough final resolution or any kind of judgement or opinion interlace.

Having said that, I will stress again just how good Gosling (“The Notebook”) is in the film. He has totally immersed himself in the role. He’s obviously going to go places this kid, so although this is a grand performance, it’ll likely only be the icing on the cake for him, at the end of the day.

Wait for DVD and watch it in a double-header with “Stand & Deliver”.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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