half nelson

You know those movies about the teacher who goes to the inner city high school and, you know, has a tough time at first, but then ends up saving the entire world from nuclear war, pestilence and cockroaches? That one starring Michelle Pfeiffer that I can't remember the name of comes to mind. It was truly horrible.

When I first read the summation of Half Nelson, I thought it would maybe be more of the same trite crap. Then when I saw that Mr. Gosling was up for an Oscar this year for his performance, I decided to give it a try. I'm extremely glad I did. I won't give too much away because the tension, uncomfortableness and the 'is it gonna happen? God, I hope not' anticipation of it all were big reasons why I enjoyed it so much. It's a pretty slow story, but I found myself anxiously waiting to see what was going to happen next. The script leaves out a lot of the past story, so you're left to your own devices in figuring out what is happening with the characters, much like you were actually dropped in on this chunk of their lives and you're experiencing their days just as they would.

Gosling, who plays Mr. Dunn, a high school history teacher on the brink of a meltdown, gave a pretty good performance (and I didn't have a lot of faith in him based on his past movie appearances, I mean, The Notebook? whatever), but I was truly amazed by Shareeka Epps, the girl who plays, Dre, one of Dunn's students who is also at a crossroads and trying to figure out her path in life. Unfortunately, even the ending leaves you to fill in the gaps for yourself. Which for me, also added to the allure of this fine example of good filmmaking.

I give this one four thumbs up.

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