The Basketball Diaries

"Very Good"

The Basketball Diaries Review


The Basketball Diaries is a gritty film chronicling the adolescent years of poet/writer/musician Jim Carroll (played by Leonardo Dicaprio). Carroll was a star Catholic high school basketball player, presumably headed for the NBA. Unfortunately, his plans didn't quite work out when young Jim fell into the cruel world of life on the street and heavy drug abuse. He kept a vivid journal of his life and times, hence the title.

This is not your typical coming-of-age story. From the beginning, the antics of Carroll and his exceptionally rude punk friends don't help raise a lot of sympathy for their cause. When the boys (including a surprising performance by "Marky" Mark Wahlberg) get into trouble, mugging elderly women and robbing New York shops, in order to raise money for their drug habits, the temptation is to dismiss them as common hoodlums. But the powerfully realistic performance by DiCaprio, full of all the pain and suffering that comes along with heroin addiction and withdrawal, makes this film almost required viewing for any young person not exposed to the drug culture.

Carroll's early life reads like a textbook of what not to do. The film really gets under your skin and never pulls a punch, with Carroll getting badly beaten, begging for drug money, haggling over the price of dope, and violently shaking from D.T.'s. The movie weaves between reality and the drug-infused, nightmarish dreams of Carroll quite well, and inevitably, pity for the boy win out over disgust for his habit.

The filmmakers want you to recognize that none of this is Carroll's fault, and the vast majority of the movie is composed of various scenes of the effects of the drugs: over and over again. The repetition, while effective, gets a little tedious, having the impression more of a music video rather than a movie. Also, the preachiness of the film's theme (Drugs are bad.) isn't exactly subtle, and the unavoidable happy ending gives The Basketball Diaries the flavor of a Public Service Announcement.

Still, it's worthwhile. This film won't encourage you to start that heroin habit any time soon.



The Basketball Diaries

Facts and Figures

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Friday 21st April 1995

Distributed by: PolyGram Video

Production compaines: New Line Cinema, Island Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Fresh: 18 Rotten: 21

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jim Carroll, as Jim's Mother, James Madio as Pedro, as Mickey, as Swifty, as Neutron, as Diane Moody, as Bobby, as Reggie, Manny Alfaro as Manny, Cynthia Daniel as Winkie, as Blinkie

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