Metascore
85

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

User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 173 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
    100
    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
    80
    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
    80
    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
    50
    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: 57 out of 77
  2. Negative: 14 out of 77
  1. GeorgeD.
    Sep 18, 2006
    10
    Gosling is dead-on. This is the most fuly realized performance of the last 5 years (at least). Hate to use a reviewers cliche, but Epps is luminous. There's not a false step in the whole movie. Can't wait to see what Fleck and Boden do next. Expand
  2. MarkM.
    Mar 9, 2007
    10
    If you need a movie that is easy to watch, with one-dimensional characters and a saccharine sweet ending that's visible from the parking lot, then this is not your film. However, if you like movies to be staggeringly realistic then see it. Half Nelson proves that occasionally there is a reason to go to the theatre, and generally, it's for a film that cost less than a million-dollars to make. What Gosling, Epps, and Mackie do here is amazing. It is more like watching a documentary then a fictional story. Why does the teacher have to redeem himself? Too many movies end by trying to make the viewer feel better, well life doesn Expand
  3. TyP
    Apr 26, 2009
    10
    In my top 5 movies of all time. Captures a lifestyle in an subtle, accurate, and painful piece of art.
  4. JohnE
    Sep 8, 2006
    9
    Finally something interesting out there to go see. Very well acted by Ryan Gosling!
  5. FP.
    Sep 7, 2006
    8
    Good film - realistic rendering of yearning, suffering and learning.
  6. johnw
    Sep 11, 2006
    6
    [***SPOILERS***] The shocker is not the crackhead teacher. Why has nobody mentioned the blatant suggestions of pedophilia?
  7. JamesB.
    Feb 25, 2007
    0
    Hated it. Druggie movie about nothing. Saw it on DVD and walked out.

See all 77 User Reviews

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