Half Nelson Reviews

  • Half Nelson offers an opportunity to marvel, once again, at the dazzling talent of Ryan Gosling for playing young men as believable as they are psychologically trip-wired.

    Lisa Schwarzbaum — Entertainment Weekly

  • Half Nelson is that rarest of marvels: an American fiction film that wears its political heart on its sleeve.

    Manohla Dargis — New York Times

  • Dunne [Gosling] is an enjoyable and impressive creation, justifiably recognised with an Oscar nomination for Gosling earlier this year.

    Andrew Pulver — Guardian [UK]

  • A compelling drama that establishes Ryan Gosling as one of the finest actors of his generation.

    Claudia Puig — USA Today

  • Nearly every scene rings with its own ragged truth.

    Ann Hornaday — Washington Post

  • Gritty and terrifically human, Half Nelson is not your big brother's Hollywood high school movie.

    Ty Burr — Boston Globe

  • Half Nelson drags the crowd-pleasing white-teacher-inspires-black-students movie onto the mat and pins the flabby genre in the first round.

    Rob Nelson — Village Voice

  • Sardonic yet moving, Half Nelson deftly outlines the perils of youthful idealism without lapsing into knee-jerk cynicism.

    Dennis Lim — Village Voice

  • Ryan Fleck's Half Nelson is one of the most compelling and idea-laden American indie films to come along in a while, and it features one of this year's finest performances from Ryan Gosling.

    Jack Mathews — New York Daily News

  • It'll be weeks before I shake off [Gosling's] performance -- or the shadows of this small, extraordinary narrative-feature debut from filmmaking partners Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden.

    Amy Biancolli — Houston Chronicle

  • The tone is even and thorough, the performances restrained and believable, the implied future bleak yet somehow satisfying.

    Michael Booth — Denver Post

  • Downbeat as it is, Half Nelson is a genuinely inspirational film -- a terrifically compelling character study and a tricky exploration of the links (and busted links) between the personal and the political.

    David Edelstein — New York Magazine

  • A wholly absorbing and delicately shaded portrait of an educator played by Ryan Gosling, a young man harboring an offstage secret.

    Michael Phillips — Chicago Tribune

  • One might also argue that a crack addict couldn't be responsible enough to be a good teacher, but he's the most believable protagonist in any American movie I've seen this year.

    Jonathan Rosenbaum — Chicago Reader

  • Gosling anchors the picture, and Epps ... has a kind of grace, presence and knowingness that far more experienced actors struggle vainly to find.

    Steven Rea — Philadelphia Inquirer

  • Ryan Gosling is electrifying in the role, delivering a performance that is sure to catapult him into the front ranks of stardom.

    Colin Covert — Minneapolis Star Tribune

  • It's interested in how real people, not movie characters, might act in the situation. It is about all the gray areas, all the complexities, all the layers of meaning.

    Richard Nilsen — Arizona Republic

  • The key to the direction of all the performances is tactful restraint and nuanced modulation.

    Andrew Sarris — New York Observer

  • The scalding talents of the moody, introspective young actor Ryan Gosling are sharply focused in Half Nelson, elevating an otherwise slight and depressingly offbeat film high above the realm of the ordinary with blast-furnace force.

    Rex Reed — New York Observer

  • A terrific performance by Ryan GoslingRyan Gosling is the chief but hardly sole reason to embrace Half Nelson.

    Dennis Harvey — Variety

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