Easily the best film about a crack-addicted junior high school teacher and his inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old girl that Ive ever seen, and Ive seen all of them. Ryan Gosling is all grown up and excellent as Dan Dunne, a guy who wishes it were the 60s, because back then, it was considered respectable to get high on dope and spout Marxist theories of history. Sadly, he lives in the early 21st century, and hes stuck teaching inner-city kids who find his bloody-nosed lectures and blown-pupil performances interesting and engaging, but not sexy and coolexcept for young Drey, a girl whose father-figure crush on Dunne leads him into dangerous territory. Beautifullyor perhaps sleazilyshot and staged, Half Nelson
would be a great film if it didnt meander through its middle third. Luckily, the ending is strong enough to make up for the slow spot, and Shareeka Epps is perfect as sad-eyed Drey.