Dan (Ryan Gosling) is a high school teacher with a rare capacity for reaching his young students with his unorthodox methods. But Dan has a big problem: he’s addicted to smoking crack and his life is falling apart as a result.
As his professional and personal life freefall in the shadow of an ever-increasing drug habit, Dan finds an unlikely ally in a young female student.
The pair become firm friends and where this film really succeeds is in confounding our expectations at every turn.
This is no Larry Clark shockfest or Robin Williams schmaltzfest, but a tender portrait of a young man in emotional chaos. It’s a wonderfully understated performance, which has gained Gosling a Best Actor Oscar nomination at this year’s awards.
This directorial debut has real emotional depth with a terrific soundtrack (including Broken Social Scene). It’s at once smart, tender, politically engaged and incredibly big-hearted.