Ryan Gosling fully deserved an Oscar nomination for his remarkably truthful portrayal of Dan Dunne, a crack-addicted white history teacher circling the plughole in a Brooklyn public school.
As a character study Half Nelson is entirely convincing - Dunne could easily have been fodder for another of those Alexander Payne movies...yet unlike Miles in Sideways or Mr McAllister in Election, his story hasn't been furnished with the kind of plot structure that would make this particular tour of loser-dom meaningful beyond these particular circumstances.
Instead what we get are a set of variably memorable incidents, most of which emerge out of his relationship with 13-year-old Drey, one of his students and an all-too-classic case of latchkey kid. This kind of cross-generational, complementary loneliness which plays out against a rather listless narrative will be familiar to anyone who wholeheartedly enjoyed Lost in Translation....myself not included. Still, an interesting movie.