Half Nelson" is a spare, original story with exquisitely natural and fresh performances delivered by Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps and Anthony Mackie. The film covers ground somewhat like what we've seen in "To Sir, With Love," "Dangerous Minds," "The Blackboard Jungle" and other inner-city school dramas. Only this film focuses on the lives of one teacher and student in an intimate and up-close way. "Half Nelson" looks at specific lives and does not generalize. There is little exposition, and so much of what we learn about the characters is deduced from how they said something, rather than what they said. At times, I found myself laughing and smiling through what is a rather disturbing story because of the way the characters react to the circumstances they find themselves in.
I can't say enough good things about this film and highly recommend it because it is well conceived, directed and performed.
I hope it receives support and recognition during the film award season so that a wider audience will find and see this independent film.