Ryan Fleck returns to Sundance with Half Nelson, a feature-length version of his Jury Prize-winning short, Gowanus, Brooklyn, that looks at an unlikely friendship that brings hope to a man trapped by his own demons.
Dan Dunne is an idealistic inner-city junior high school teacher. Though he can get it together in the classroom, he spends his time outside school on the edge of consciousness. He juggles his hangovers and his homework, keeping his lives precariously separated, until one of his troubled students, Drey, catches him in a compromising situation. From this awkward beginning, Dan and Drey stumble into an unexpected friendship that threatens either to undo them, or to provide the vital change they both need to move forward in their lives.
Half Nelson neither condemns nor sanctions Dan’s actions, but rather depicts characters who are “wrestling” with various aspects of themselves and their roles in the larger world around them. Ryan Gosling perfectly renders Dan, imbuing him with layers and dimensions rarely seen in film. Equally exciting is newcomer Shareeka Epps’s performance as Drey; she displays a remarkable ability to convey both wisdom and innocence. Fleck has delicately crafted a film about the universal struggle to achieve vital change in one’s life—and also about the role friendship can play in that struggle. –Sundance
Ryan K. Fleck (born September 20, 1976) is an American film director, cinematographer, editor, and screenwriter best known for directing and writing the 2006 film Half Nelson and the 2008 film Sugar. He is known for his collaborations with fellow filmmaker Anna Boden.
Fleck was born in Berkeley, California and raised in Berkeley and Oakland, California. He attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where he studied film. At this time he met Anna Boden on the set of a student film and, after he finished his thesis short film Struggle, they began dating and decided to collaborate. Together they made the short documentaries Have You Seen This Man? and Young Rebels before they wrote and he directed the short film Gowanus, Brooklyn, a sample feature aiming to attract potential financiers to their undeveloped script, Half Nelson.The short won a prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and Fleck and Boden were subsequently invited to the Sundance Writer’s Lab to receive… read more
One of the best films of the last decade and could still ring to be true this decade and next. Near-perfect independent film that's a must and essential film for any lover of independent cinema. Ryan Gosling is amazing while Shareeka Epps was able to match that caliber. Powerful, heartbreaking the next and finally hopeful.
Before he became a star, a lot of people forgot Ryan Gosling had such humble beginnings. Half Nelson gives us one of his many uncommonly good performances, as a "base head" teacher. Ryan Fleck gives us a portrayal of loneliness that is sad, realistic and lacking any kind of a happy ending.
Under all its quiet nuances lies a film full of anger and political rage. Half Nelson displays the failure to communicate between people, emotions, lovers and your self. A story about a friendship… read review
one of the things i liked most about this movie is the fact that it doesn’t fall into the patronizing trap of sensitive white guy saves a black youth. the relationship between the two main characters… read review
It’s the end of summer; time to dump all those films that wouldn’t hold up as summer blockbusters and gear up for award season. Lucky we have our trusty indie theatres, saving us from the boredom of… read review