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Episode Guide

Half Nelson

Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) teaches history at a middle school in Brooklyn. He's a great teacher, and he's not afraid to go off-syllabus in order to grab his pupils' interest. Unfortunately, he has also strayed from the straight and narrow in his personal life, having succumbed to an addiction for crack cocaine.

He tries to keep the drugs and his job separate, but one day he fails abysmally. Luckily for him, he's found sprawled semi-conscious on the floor of the girls' toilets by one of his pupils, Drey (Shareeka Epps).

The reserved, observant girl, who due to family circumstances also lives a fairly lonely life, doesn't shop him to the head, nor does she use her knowledge of his deep flaw as a bargaining chip. Instead the two form a fragile friendship.

But, Dunne discovers that his drug dealer Frank (Anthony Mackie) also has an 'elder brother' relationship with Drey...

The finely nuanced performances from the central actors and the believable characters wrought by writers Fleck and Anna Boden make for a quietly engaging narrative, which may be a world away from some of the more showy 'inspirational teacher' movies but is none the worse for that.

(2006) Cert: 15

Half Nelson synopsis

Oscar-nominated Ryan Gosling stars as a troubled teacher in writer-director Ryan Fleck's naturalistic drama

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