As the precious last days of summer vacation dwindle down to nothing, it is hard for me not to see Half Nelson as a cautionary tale. Ryan Gosling is a crackhead (for reals, that is neither metaphor nor exaggeration) middle school history teacher and basketball coach in Brooklyn. Shareeka Epps is his
aspiring crack delivery girl student. As a teacher, Gosling is inspiring and disdainful of “the man’s” curriculum, preferring to illustrate concepts with an arm wrestling demonstration. As a coach, he is a bit of a hot head who takes his team’s ineptitude all too personally.
At the end of the day he heads home to an apartment that would fail a college freshman’s aesthetic demands, and to a doomed cat. (Crackheads make terrible pet owners). A bump of coke (if he’s flush) or a pipe of crack reinvigorates him enough to hit the bars. Somehow he makes it back to bed before the alarm goes off and starts the whole ride over.
As I often wish someone would do to Lindsay Lohan, I wanted to grab Gosling by the shoulders and shake some sense into him.
“Chill out, man! Quit coaching! Open the freaking curriculum, quit trying to be a rock star, and get some sleep!”
God do I not want to go back.