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Love & Basketball

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Love & Basketball

Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps
Director: Gina Prince Blythewood
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 118 Minutes
Release Date: April 2000
Genres: Drama, Romance, Sports

*Also starring: Dennis Haysbert, James DuMont, Harry J. Lennix, Christine Dunford, Alfre Woodard, Debbi Morgan

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Susan Granger review follows movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Harvey Karten read the review ---

Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

First-time feature film-maker Gina Price-Blythewood scores with this romantic drama told in four quarters. Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps play two young athletes from Baldwin Hills, an upper middle-class black neighborhood of Los Angeles. Friendly adversaries since childhood, they share a mutual passion for basketball. In high school and college, Epps is set to follow in the footsteps of his famous father (Dennis Haysbert), an NBA player, while Lathan battles her own inner conflicts involving the rough 'n' tumble reality and inequities of women's ball. Conformity is an anathema to her. I found this feminist aspect of the film particularly compelling since she's struggling to become an independent woman, as opposed to the life chosen by her more subservient mother (Alfre Woodard) who did not have the same opportunities available to her. Then Epps must face his own personal disillusionment - and becomes involved another woman, making Lathan wonder if "being all about ball" is really worth the price that must be paid. Quite simply: this is a coming-of-age saga in which assumptions and idealism are challenged and re-focused - on the court and off. Unfortunately, the predictable plot is tied up too simplistically, like a contemporary Cinderella tale. But the performances are uniformly good, particularly Sanaa Lathan who proves herself an actress of formidable intensity. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Love & Basketball" is an uneven but satisfying 6, particularly as a date movie. Spike Lee, who serves as producer, has introduced yet another exciting, new African-American film-maker in Gina Price-Blythewood.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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