© Arsenal Filmverleih GmbH

Half Nelson
U.S.A. 2006

Opening 27 Mar 2008

Directed by: Ryan Fleck
Writing credits: Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden
Principal actors: Ryan Gosling, Jeff Lima, Shareeka Epps, Nathan Corbett, Tyra Kwao-Vovo

Dan (Ryan Gosling) is a high-school teacher in Brooklyn who cares about his students and tries to teach them in a way they can relate to. Dan is also a crack addict. The wrestling grip half-nelson serves as a metaphor for Dan’s addiction, a situation he is (almost) unable to extricate himself from. At first, Dan manages to keep his job and his addiction separate, but one day he smokes crack in a school bathroom and is found half unconscious by Drew (Shareeka Epps), one of his students. She helps him and stays with Dan until he is better. From that time, teacher and student start to look out for each other, which is quite a challenge for both.

Drew, like Dan, is lonely. Her hard-working mother does not have enough time to spend with her daughter, and Drew does not seem to have any good friends. Now she finds herself between two men who are trying to “look out” for her: her brother‘s friend, a drug-dealer who uses her to run drugs for him, and her drug addicted teacher who means well but needs a lot of help himself.

Thanks to excellent performances by Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps, the main characters seem very real in this moving and believable story by Ryan Fleck, which offers no easy fixes for their problems. (Christa Greiff)

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