Sunday, September 10, 2006

Short review: Half Nelson

Half Nelson begs the question, "how fucked up can you be and still teach 8th grade history?" The answer? Very. On why he doesn't keep a copy of Mein Kampf out on the shelf, "'Cause it's just not cool to be a Nazi anymore, baby." No, he's not a Nazi. He is one fucked up individual. Perhaps a true tragic hero--but his tragic flaws are much more in evidence than any virtues. He dresses in anachronistic '80s style, including a digital calculator watch and pink power tie. A young girl, his student, befriends him and saves him…or does she? The end of the film doesn't advance you past where it started. The acting is fine--Ryan Gosling is fantastic. Shareeka Epps is astounding--tough, vulnerable and completely her own confused, conflicted person. The journey is fine, but since our (anti) hero learns nothing at the end, I wondered why we made the trip.

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