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The Basketball Diaries

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Basketball Diaries

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Bruno Kirby
Director: Scott Kalvert
Rated: R
RunTime: 102 Minutes
Release Date: April 1995
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Lorraine Bracco, Ernie Hudson, Patrick McGaw, James Madio, Mark Wahlberg, Barton Heyman, Juliette Lewis, Michael Rapaport, Michael Imperioli

Review by Brian Koller
3½ stars out of 4

"The Basketball Diaries" is a lurid and uncompromising study of how drug addiction can destroy lives. The film has been ignored or underrated because many people would find it unwatchable. The protaganist's decline into the lowest of society could hardly be made more graphic.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Jim Carroll, a Catholic high school student and basketball star. He is also a would-be poet, scribbling essays in a journal that he jealously guards. Jim's risk-taking, anti-social behaviour and drug abuse soon leads to the destruction of his life. Quitting school and leaving home, he turns to hard-core criminal acts to get money for his next fix. He has little understanding of his situation, no desire to overcome his habits, and the only question is will he end up in prison or in a morgue.

If you have the stomach for this sort of movie, you will be rewarded. There are many outstanding scenes, such as Jim attempting to cheer up friend and leukemia patient Bobby, and Jim trying to play basketball while on downers.

There is a Catholic priest in "The Basketball Diaries" who serves as a harsh father figure for Jim. Never smiling, he seems to know what trouble Jim is getting into and is determined to punish him for it. Carroll later has a drug-induced fantasy where he stalks and shoots the priest with an enormous rifle. He also has a confession scene with the priest where he learns that sins whether great or small carry the same number of "Hail Marys."

A great movie that is without a general audience, one can be grateful for cable television so that it can be shown uncensored and without compromise.

Copyright 1995 Brian Koller

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