Half Nelson (2006)
Unpretentious, lingering look at the process of growing up, racial and cultural differences, drug addiction and the value of intergenerational relations. The film is directed with fine balance by Ryan Fleck, and presents its main characters in a surprisingly authentic fashion. There is no revelation in the screenplay, but we're left pondering subtle questions about adolescence vs. adulthood and idealism vs. reality. Ryan Gosling is emerging as one of the most talented actors of his generation, and his interplay with Shareeka Epps here is at times vibrant. The sense of eroticism that develops between them gives the film an additional aspect, and emphasizes the fine line the film wants to convey. The script, by Fleck and Anna Boden, has its strength in its realistic dialogue. However, it does lack an explosiveness that would have made the drama more potent. The direction might have to take its blame for this, because there are no shifts in tempo or emphasis from Fleck - something he might be able to add to his films with a bit more experience.