Before Captain Marvel soars into theaters, poised to dominate the year with her womanly awesomeness, we must revisit directors Ryan Fleck’s and Anna Boden’s breakout film: Half Nelson (2006). Aside from giving Ryan Gosling his first Oscar nominated performance, Half Nelson is a raw character study of an addicted teacher and his student who bonds with him after discovering his secret. Gosling ran into this role, baring no reservations to preserve a particular image, Gosling allows the trips and steady decline take him but his journey would be run of the mill without his co-star Shareeka Epps.
Miss Epps took to her very adult-leaning high school student with natural ease; a student just trying to get through the next few years of emerging adulthood without bothering her working mom or getting into the problems that put her brother away. Decisions beyond her years compound with covering for Coach Gosling while their lives intersect. Where Gosling proved their was depth behind the abs (where does he store it though????), Epps was a breakout performance well appreciated for her subtlety and strength. Stoic can be stunning; I think it lives in the stability and the pieces you let slip. Half Nelson explores the edge between adolescence and adulthood, responsibility and innocence. Before the epic, I recommend this slice of humanity.