The Basketball Diaries (1995)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BB.5

USA, 1995.  New Line Cinema, Island Pictures.  Screenplay by , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Jim Carroll’s autobiographical account of his days as a delinquent youth has been translated into an unenjoyable film experience. Carroll (played here by Leonardo DiCaprio) is a student at a Catholic high school with a particular aptitude for writing poetry. He spends most of his days getting high with his friends, avoiding the predatory advances of his sexually frustrated gym teacher (), and terrorizing his mother (Lorraine Bracco) for drug money. DiCaprio is compelling and further proves his high standards in choosing challenging screen roles, but this movie seems particularly intent on being unpleasant in a forced and unnatural manner and because of this is too patronizing to be informative or powerful. There must have been some light at the end of the tunnel that encouraged Carroll to get clean and concentrate his efforts on something as positive as successful writing, but you wouldn’t know it from watching this movie. Look for Mark Wahlberg making an impressive film debut as one of DiCaprio’s renegade buddies.

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