Director: Ryan Fleck
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie and introducing
RunTime: 1 hr 46 mins
Released By: The Picturehouse
Rating: M18 (Drug References & Scene of
Opening Day: 1 Feb 2007
Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) is an idealistic junior high school
teacher who inspires his 13 and 14-year-olds to examine everything
from civil rights to Civil War with a new enthusiasm. Rejecting
the standard curriculum in favor of an edgier approach, Dan
teaches his students how change works - both on a historical
and personal scale. Though Dan can get it together in the
classroom, he spends his time outside school on the edge of
consciousness. Dealing with a serious drug habit, Dan is a
strung-out role model who juggles his hangovers and his homework
until one of his troubled students, Drey (Shareeka Epps),
catches him getting high after school. From this awkward beginning,
Dan and Drey stumble into an unexpected friendship ...
are films that make you review your outlook in life. And then
there are films which remind you of who you are, and what
have made you who you are today.
surprise hit directed by independent filmmaker Ryan Fleck
provides an extremely honest look at our aspirations, our
dreams, our ideals – those that we still have, as well
as those that died along the way.
earnest Ryan Gosling (almost every female we know adore his
performance in Nick Cassavetes’ The Notebook) plays
a white teacher in a black town. There, he inspires young
students with his energy and passion in teaching serious topics
like civil rights and philosophy. But outside the classroom,
drugs take over his enthusiastic self, and depression gets
the better of him. When a student sees him taking drugs, an
unlikely friendship gradually develops.
you have seen this before in movies like Dangerous Minds (1995),
Akeelah and the Bee (2006) and even the upcoming Freedom Writers
(2007)? While these movies have been successfully inspiring,
this arthouse favourite adds a brilliantly sincere touch which
looks at situations which you and I hold dear to our hearts.
will especially empathize with Gosling’s character,
about the inevitable reality that preoccupies him everyday,
the past he is unwilling to let go, the ideals he had, and
the want to hold on to something never quite attainable. In
a memorable bare and stark scene, an ex-girlfriend dishes
him a scathing line “some people actually change”,
which entirely crashes his world.
laid out bare, some things can really break your heart.
Gosling plays this character with impressive intensity. After
earning himself a Breakthrough Performance by an Actor in
last year’s National Board of Review, the young and
good-looking actor is up against some fierce competition at
the upcoming Oscars for the award of Best Actor in a Leading
if he does not bring home the statuette, he has already won
our hearts in the most affecting ways.
this character is another impressive child actor Shareeka
Epps who plays the young girl who adds another dimension to
the 106-minute picture. She represents the ideals that we
all once had, and the crossroad that we were faced with. Hence,
the two characters together results in a fine chemistry which
will stir you emotionally.
Yet, this is not a movie about self-depreciation and depression.
It is about how we redeem ourselves in the darkest periods
of our lives, and not spiral and wallow in pity. The movie
engages you without having to resort to melodrama and the
usual tons of sad tears.
fact, the edginess adopted by Fleck brings us on an open journey
of life as it looks at possible real-life situations out in
context of a suburban town. What we have is an entirety that
everyone can relate to universally.
may be no ups and downs, climaxes and emotional dramas in
this movie. But you’d be rewarded with a richly truthful
production that boasts of a heartfelt screenplay and charming
performances that will touch you in the simplest way.
(Earnest performances and a thoughtful screenplay make this
movie a worthy watch)
Review by John Li