ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Great Understated Indie Film - Half Nelson Movie Review

Updated on July 25, 2012

True independent films as well as really good indie wannabees share the wonderful knack of developing characters that blur the lines between good and bad.  In a world of blockbuster films where the lines between villain and hero are so defined, good independent movies often keep such definitions in the gray area, often without true villains or hero's themselves.  Movies that are no-so-mainstream, gravitate toward actually using the good old fashioned protagonist and antagonist characters, without putting either completely on a pedestal or in the gutter.

The movie Half Nelson (2006)  blurs those lines beautifully.  I watched it recently on Netflix DVD.  The film is about a school teacher and his unexpected friendship with one of the middle school students he teaches.  The school teacher (Ryan Gosling) is a crack addict. His nights are filled with drug abuse, women and alcohol, yet he is a very effective, outgoing teacher who has the respect of his students.

The student (Shareeka Epps) has a life that is slowly gravitating toward a career of dealing drugs, yet she is a good kid and shows respect in the glass.

Great Flick!

They both develop a relationship that helps keep each other from spiraling into the abyss.

The movie is low budget but doesn't feel that way.  The entire film is shot in the inner city but is without the usual ghetto cliches.  There are no strained white/black relations. No muggings or shootings.  People work and go about their lives. The drug dealer in the movie, who completes a sort of maligned friendship-triangle, is a bad guy that really isn't all that bad (as far as typical movie drug dealers go).  All this helps keep the film fresh and realistic feeling.

Half Nelson is not a films of blockbuster effects, intense action or melodrama.  This film is about good writing and good acting. That is all.

This is not a big name film. Besides Gosling, the actors might be recognizable to some, but not many the typical movie goes could name.  The acting is flawless. Their performances, in a wonderfully restrained way, reveal the genuine humanity as well as the deep flaws within each of the characters.

I only found one fault in the film.  To my surprise, I did feel the film was 10 or 15 minutes too long, even though the film is only 106 minutes long.  Maybe I was just in a strange mood that evening. Otherwise, I loved it.

Watch Half Nelson sometime if you get a chance.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)