Half Nelson

A work of great intrigue
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Tales of drug addiction seem to fall into two camps: those that mix the depths of personal decline within an exciting, almost glamorous lifestyle (Trainspotting, Pulp Fiction) and those where the implications of the addiction devastate everything in its wake (Requiem For a Dream). Half Nelson depicts Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling), a teacher who functions with professionalism in the classroom. Outside of school, his relationships collapse as they’re second priority to getting his next fix. His two lives are thrown together when a student, Drey (Shareeka Epps) discovers his hidden problem.

Fleck imbues Half Nelson with a suitably slow, almost hypnotic pacing that works well, although it does demand patience. Gosling builds his character with utmost precision, ensuring that the relationship with Epps (in a promising debut) provokes sympathy for both characters. Whilst Half Nelson’s air of calm makes a less engrossing experience than it could’ve had the potential for, its individuality makes for a work of great intrigue that is more than worthy of investigation.

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