Netflix Must Watch: “Half Nelson”
This 2006 drama follows Dan (Ryan Gosling), an inner city middle school teacher with a pretty serious drug problem, and Drey (Shareeka Epps), one of his students who stumbles upon her favorite teachers secret. Dan is also the coach of the school’s girls basketball team, which Drey is apart of. The film pays special attention to the struggle that is weighing down each character. When we first meet Dan, he is frustrated both personally and professionally, and his drug addiction is spiraling out of control. We learn through an uncomfortable dinner scene that Dan comes from a middle class family. He was a college graduate, someone afforded all the opportunity a child like Drey could only dream of. Drey is product of an absentee mom and non-existent Dad, with her only other choice for a role model, her brother, locked up for dealing drugs. Naturally, she turns to Dan for guidance, until she finds him smoking crack in the girls bathroom. Dan and Drey are brought together through their similar struggles, forced to be each others salvation.
Gosling is truly incredible in this movie. It was his first serious leading role since The Notebook, and he really delivers. The Gosling we know in 2013 that has become one of the few actors who can captivate you without saying a word, either with a look or shift of his body, is very evident here. In Half Nelson, he plays the role of an addict with such intensity, you can feel his soul slipping away just by looking at him. Shareeka Epps is also very good, as the relationship between the two carry the film and have you rooting for a happy ending. Spend the 100 minutes on this movie and thank me later.