Half Nelson

Director: Ryan Fleck
Year Released: 2006
Rating: 3.0

A middle school history teacher who fancies himself a White Negro (Ryan Gosling) and has an addiction to smoking rocks and wiping his mouth with his tie finds a kindred spirit in one of his 8th grade students - most interestingly, not much happens, and the lack-of-events is, in itself, a little jarring (the ending points towards redemption, but mostly for the little girl). I have trouble deciding whether Gosling's performance is hideously affected or positively brilliant - I thought the same thing about Philip Seymour Hoffman's Truman Capote - so I'm going to conclude that it's both; further, the impact of the movie is not intellectual, but rather emotional: we feel for this mixed up man and this neglected girl, but neither evolves that much or realizes anything in the final frame that they didn't know by the twenty minute mark (ultimately reducing the point to another anti-drug movie). It would have been almost impossible for me not to like this on some level, since it hits so close to home (people tell me I'm a shorter, uglier, skinnier Gosling) ... of course, I don't have a drug habit, but I do have O.C.D., so if they filmed my character, he'd have to get caught washing his hands too much or maybe rearranging bookshelves over and over again. We could call it ¾ Lotti ... but who would be the audience?