Ryan Gosling is one of those actors who is still just under the radar but promises to break out any day now. Sure he was in the big hit The Notebook but it was the cinematic equivalent of a feminine hygiene commercial and therefore didn’t provide him with the breakthrough he needed. He also put in an amazing performance in The Believer a film so controversial that it never got a wide release or attention from many awards. His character bits in other movies never gave him the limelight and he remains relatively unknown.
In Half Nelson, the story of an inspiring young teacher who also has a cocaine habit, he is at it again, delivering an amazing performance in a powerful little film. Will audiences find him this time?
Half Nelson tells the story of Gosling’s character and his habit as it’s discovered by a young, bright student from the wrong side of the tracks. The two form a unique friendship and help each other through their dismal lives. Sure it all seems inappropriate on the outside but the two couldn’t be better supports for each other.
Half Nelson avoids the clichés of this genre. This isn’t a dismal tragedy about a self-destructive addict or an after school special about poor kids being special yet oppressed. Instead, it’s a groundedly optimistic story about two people coming together when they need each other.
The issues in Half Nelson are real and the film never glosses over the gravity of the situation. Yet it also chooses to look at how people can help each other instead of how they shouldn’t be helping each other according to society.
In the middle of the great little movie is a great little performance by Gosling who will hopefully get the attention he deserves for this role. All in all, Half Nelson is a worthwhile lesson and charming film.