If there’s a criticism I could have made of Half Nelson, it’s that the whole thing is sometimes a little too cool and goodlooking – the soundtracking choices and cinematography sometimes showcase Gosling (admittedly a man very fit for showcasing) like he’s floating through an exceedingly credible music video.
That said, given how in keeping that style is with Dan Dunne’s gliding highs and the lurching back-to-reality jolt it lends the film’s escalating shocks, I have to admit that it works rather well. Slipping in seamlessly among all this sleek doom, Broken Social Scene are all over this soundtrack – Shampoo Suicide later wraps the film’s most wrenching, wordless scene in the same sense of languorous despair.
Lover’s Spit, a long-standing private anthem for the tired and emotional indie kid, is a curious multi-tasker: both desolate and comforting, it sweeps the listener into its tender arms as it whispers in your ear that everything is ruined forever. There’s a helpless self-indulgence that fits perfectly to Gosling’s perennial failure to kick – youth standing bewildered at the end of youth, the comfort in a car-crash.
Here Gosling’s unravelling inner-city school teacher, wired and defiant, gives an unintentionally revealing monologue on his addiction history to a long-suffering colleague-with-benefits. As those glum keys swell, he clings to her in a rhythmless slow-dance – she’s a temporary anchor in an unending storm.