Half Nelson (2006)

Half Nelson poster

Hunting Lane Films
Starring:
 Ryan Gosling, Shareeka Epps
Also Starring:  Kitty, Chino
Directed by: Ryan Fleck

Cat Out of the Bag Alert!  This review contains some spoilers for this film!

Synopsis: Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) is an unconventional history teacher in an inner-city school struggling with drug addiction when he befriends Drey (Shareeka Epps), one of the girls on the school’s basketball team.

Kitty Cameos: Dan owns a tabby cat named Dave who is seen inside Dan’s apartment. Dan is seen holding and petting Dave and feeding him. It is clear his character, though troubled, cares deeply for the cat.

Half Nelson - Dan Dunne Ryan Gosling lying on couch with tabby cat Dave

Half Nelson - Dan Dunne Ryan Gosling lying on mattress with tabby cat Dave nearby

Half Nelson - Dan Dunne Ryan Gosling lying on mattress with tabby cat Dave nearby

Half Nelson - tabby cat Dave eating from bowl

Half Nelson - tabby cat Dave eating from bowl wide shot

Half Nelson - Dan Dunne Ryan Gosling lying on couch with tabby cat Dave

Kitty Carnage Warning!  One day Dan scoops out some food into Dave’s bowl and calls him. When the cat doesn’t come, Dan looks for him and finds him dead on the floor. It’s unclear if Dave was supposed to have died from natural causes or from neglect. The deceased cat is not seen too clearly in the shot and was in reality a fake cat.

Half Nelson - dead tabby cat Dave lying on floor

A short time later Dan talks to a drug dealer named Frank (Anthony Mackie) and tells him to stay away from Drey. After talking for a while, Frank invites Dan in for a drink. Dan sees a small white and black cat and picks it up. Frank tells him not to touch the cat and then stops him before Dan can bring it inside. Dan sets the cat down and Frank kicks at it, scaring it away.

Half Nelson - Dan Dunne Ryan Gosling holding white and black cat with Frank Anthony Mackie

Half Nelson - Dan Dunne Ryan Gosling holding white and black cat

Half Nelson - Dan Dunne Ryan Gosling holding white and black cat with Frank Anthony Mackie

The part of Dave was played by cat actor Kitty. But the role of the stray was improvised during filming when Ryan Gosling happened to spot the stray cat and picked it up, incorporating it into the scene. Reportedly the cat was later adopted by the film’s wardrobe supervisor and named Chino.

Half Nelson - white and black cat running

Half Nelson - white and black cat standing

Final Mewsings: Drug dealers have no right to look down on cats.


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