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August 28, 2006

Half Nelson

Half-nelson-poster02 A "half nelson" is an effective wrestling hold that relates to debut director Ryan Fleck’s overhyped clinker inasmuch as its Brooklyn junior high teaching protagonist Dan Dunne (stoically played by Ryan Gosling) remains emotionally knotted up. Terminal malcontent Dunne gets caught smoking crack in a locker room by his 13-year-old student Drey (Shareeka Epps) after a basketball game and the two develop a dysfunctional interdependent relationship that is squirm inducing for its manifest levels of impropriety. The movie hits a stream of false notes when Dunne’s students deliver oral reports on Civil Rights struggles that could only have been plagiarized. The film’s ending isn’t only meager, it’s utterly listless.

Rated R, 107 mins. (C) (Two Stars)


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