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The Basketball Diaries

 

Anyone who caught Leonardo DiCaprio's performance as retarded adolescent Arnie in What's Eating Gilbert Grape? saw the performance of a nascent star. In Scott Kalvert's The Basketball Diaries, DiCaprio shines again as Jim Carroll, a promising young writer and basketball player-turned-junkie. His mesmerising and convincing portrait of a self-destructive teenager who spends more time shooting heroin than hoops rescues a fairly predictable but competently-made rites-of-passage film from mediocrity. You know the story - talented youth seduced by drugs, ends up on the streets, gets rescued from the brink of death by person with heart of gold, but only he can help himself. And so it goes on. Based on the cult novel by the real-life Jim Carroll which describes the author's journeys through the world of Class A, The Basketball Diaries quite rightly borrows from Carroll's own prose written at the time. And because of this, the film exudes a certain naivety which rings true for a 16-year-old experimenting with drugs - as all those who have been there will recognise: "I felt dazed like I'd just come out of a four-hour movie I didn't understand." We may have all written it, but only DiCaprio can get away with saying it.

 

Thanks to Gabi !

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