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Half Nelson
DVD disk
02.14.2007 By: Sturdy
Half Nelson order
Director:
Ryan Fleck

Actors:
Ryan Gosling
Shareeka Epps
Anthony Mackie

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
An inner-city school teacher struggles with his drug addiction until one of his students discovers his habit. Together, they teach each other valuable lessons about life and friendship.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Itís clear why this film earned Ryan Gosling an Oscar nomination because the entire film is set up to showcase his talents. Unfortunately, what weíre left with is one outstanding performance and a very average film. However, Ryanís performance should not go unnoticed because to this point, he hasnít shown me anything in his previous work.

The story is sweet in theory. An inner city teacher tries to do good, but canít shake the nasty drug habit. Then you have a sweet inner city kid thatís too nice and smart to be in her situation. The possibilities for life lessons and sappy scenes are endless. HALF NELSON barely touches on the complexities of such a relationship. Too many scenes are rushed through and too much focus was spent on Ryan and the drugs. Their relationship was the real story, and we didnít get to see enough of it.

I think the film wouldíve been much better had there been more dialogue between the two. I realize that most of what they shared went unsaid, but I think verbalizing their pain and struggles with each other wouldíve carried the film a little better. The characters were very interesting, but they werenít developed to their potential.

We know Ryanís performance was great, but the rest of the cast did very well also. Shareeka Epps didnít have enough dialogue to suit me, but she did well with what she had. The directing was good also. Mr. Fleck has a nice style that I look forward to seeing in the future.
THE EXTRAS
Commentary with Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden: Anna sounds like a little girl, so itís funny to listen to her talk about the film. Ryan explains most of his choices and they even explain the title of the film. Itís a good listen and provides more substance than the film itself.

Deleted scenes (3:36): These didnít contribute anything to the film and most of them were pretty short. Overall, thereís nothing worth checking out.

Extended Scenes (3:42): It was hard to decipher the difference between the scenes because there wasnít much added in. Thereís also an alternate ending in here, but it didnít do much for me either since it was a scene already in the film.

Outtakes (6:56): Itís obviously not a funny movie, so most of these are messed up lines. Thereís nothing too funny here and it gets old pretty quick.

There are also some Previews and a Music Video
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
HALF NELSON should be seen for the great performance by Ryan Gosling, but donít expect too much else. The young star and the director show a lot of potential, but this film just doesnít have enough going for it to make it a must-see.
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