Directed by writer-director team Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, Half Nelson centers on an inter-city high school teacher (Gosling) with a drug habit who forms an unlikely bond with one of his students (Epps).
Boden and Fleck’s direction is impressive, managing to capture the action in an unsentimental and raw manner that’s brimming with humanity and emotional depth.
The relationship between Dan and Drey is pushed to the forefront as both find common-ground with each other through the problems they harbor as they battle to reach their own personal resolutions.
Through the awkward and bleak tone of the film humour erupts naturally, breaking the tension and enabling the audience to emote with and relate to the characters’ problems and hard-hitting themes of addiction, loneliness and acceptance that are explored through the films hard-hitting premise.
Gosling gives a stunning and mesmerising performance as the drug addict teacher, distinguishing this film from others of its nature and warranting his much-deserved Academy Award nomination.
Half Nelson is a well-balanced, brilliantly acted and refreshingly humorous study into the rarity of second chances.