Universal acclaim - based on 31 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 169 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: Dan, an idealistic inner-city junior high school teacher with a drug habit, and Drey, one of his troubled students, stumble into an unexpected friendship that threatens either to undo them or to provide the vital change they both need to move forward in their lives. (ThinkFilm)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Superb drama from New York-based filmmakers Ryan Flek and Anna Boden.
  2. A dedicated, charismatic, crack-addicted history teacher is the most believable protagonist in an American movie this year.
  3. 90
    At a time when most American movies, studio made or "independent," seem ever more divorced from anything approximating actual life experience, Half Nelson is so sobering and searingly truthful that watching it feels like being tossed from a calm beach into a raging current.
  4. Reviewed by: Dennis Harvey
    Avoiding rote inspirational notes as well as boyz-in-the-hood violence, scrupulously low-key drama nonetheless builds to a powerful impact.
  5. Reviewed by: James Greenberg
    If there was ever any doubt, with Half Nelson, Ryan Gosling establishes himself as a major talent and one of the finest young actors around.
  6. 80
    It's a complex and defiant fable of American life run just slightly off the rails, delivering all the impact of "Crash" without the phony-baloney paradoxes or brick-in-the-face message delivery.
  7. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Too bad there is only about half an hour's worth of story here. Mostly, we just watch the teacher get high, and his classroom talks about civil rights are nothing but filler.

See all 31 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 56 out of 76
  2. Negative: 14 out of 76
  1. Feb 22, 2013
    A fantastic movie that has the patience to let the characters develop from beginning to end. The start of the movie is Ryan Gosling. An Oscar should be store for him after this superb performance. Expand
  2. Aug 9, 2011
    A superbly acted,character-driven film,it's incredibly unsentimental and always moving.Ryan Gosling is scarily good. Shareeka Epps' performance is surprisingly mature and compelling.Fully satisfying drama. Expand
  3. j30
    Feb 13, 2012
    A close to perfect film with a wonderful acting job from Ryan Gosling. He's turning into one of the great actors from this generation.
  4. Apr 8, 2012
    Ryan Gosling manages to give us one of his best performances as the protagonist crackhead...yea, that must be hard to pull off. haha. There really isn't much story but in a sense that makes it all the more realistic to me. A lot of movies exaggerate reality to make it more exciting which is certainly okay sometimes. The one critic that gave it a bad score on this site said that the classroom scenes are just filler. It's a movie about a basehead who has no friends and along the way becomes close with/looks out for one of his students. So the classroom scenes are filler huh? Well all he does is get high and teach so there's not really more of his life to be on film plus don't we need to see the way he interacts with his students to get to know more about his relationship with drey? Kyle Smith of the New York Post, I know being a critic is a hard job because it's just opinions but come on man, that is just ridiculous. Expand
  5. Jul 5, 2013
    Excellent acting all round. Two unlikely people come together: a teacher who can't find any meaning in his life and a young girl who has seen all the male figures in her life disappoint her. It's sounds far-fetched, but it's surprisingly realistic. It's slow, but its worth seeing. Expand
  6. BKM
    Jan 27, 2012
    Half Nelson may not be as edgy and complex as it sees itself, but it is still a tough little film about the opposing forces constantly at work within each of us and the struggles we face to change. It also benefits from a strong performance by Ryan Gosling. Expand
  7. Mar 31, 2013
    A bland soup of smug. As edgy as a satsuma and embarrassingly reverent. Half Nelson flogs a dead horse into a cliche paste. Ryan Gosling smoulders vacantly, as he is wont to do. Expand

See all 76 User Reviews


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