February 18, 2007

Facing your demons - Half Nelson

Today, I finally had the opportunity to watch one of my most anticipated movies of 2006. I was hoping to watch "Half Nelson" when it first came out in theatres. However, because of various work engagements and personal issues, I did not get a chance to see this great movie until it was released on DVD this past week.

The movie was about a high school history teacher, Dan Dunne (played by Ryan Gosling), and his relationship with his family, his girlfriends, and his students. In particular, the movie highlighted the teacher-student relationship and friendship between Dan Dunne and Drey (played by the talented Shareeka Epps). Drey's brother was in jail because of drug-related charges and her mother was always at work to support the family. In return, Drey was spending a lot of time with his brother's friend, Frank, who is a drug dealer in the inner city.

The irony of the movie is that on one hand, Dan was trying to teach his students and steer them away from drugs. On the other hand, Dan was tormented by his inner demons and had to rely on drugs (provided by Frank) from time to time to stay sane. Despite the fact that Dan was trying to help Drey out of the drug-related neighborhood, he failed to help himself. Eventually, he found the "friendship" he had with Drey to be unbearable. It exemplifies the inner demons he has with himself. He is afraid to get close to anyone because he doesn't want to get hurt. However, what he ends up doing is hurting himself and the people who love him.

One of the most haunting scenes in the movie is the one that Drey showed up at a motel room to delivery drugs to Frank's clients, she saw 4 people in the room, two of them engaging in certain kind of sexy activity. The one actually purchased the drugs was Dan. It's a scene without any dialogue. The only thing that conveyed the message is the expression on Drey's and Dan's faces: An exchange of $20 with a pack of coke.

So what're your inner demons? Are you afriad of getting hurt once you get too close to someone? Do you realize that you are actually hurting yourself while you are hurting others?

You can read more about the movie at Half Nelson's official website at

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