The Basketball Diaries (1995)
Crack Shows in Basketball Player
I was just gonna sniff a bag but one guy says if you're gonna sniff you might as well pop it and another guys says if you gonna pop it you might as well mainline - Jim Carroll
"The Basketball Diaries" is based upon the true story of Jim Carroll, a writer, and musician who became a voice for a generation. The movie is an adaptation on his book "The Basketball Diaries" and from what I have read, the film makers have used a fair amount of poetic license in the order of events as well as with some of the characters. Even with this knowledge, "The Basketball Diaries" is still a very gripping and disturbing story which details a man's demise as he tumbles into drug addiction.
Jim Carroll (Leonardo DiCaprio - The Quick and the Dead) is a talented High School Basketball player and dreams of getting himself out of his neighbourhood by becoming a basketball star. Every now and then, Jim and a group of friends would get high on sniffing solvents. But this leads them into the world of drugs as Jim and his friend's lives collapse as they progress through cocaine, pills and onto heroin. Thrown out of school and home Jim is forced to beg, steal and prostitute himself to get the money to fund his addiction.
"The Basketball Diaries" is one of two movies which I have come across which deals with the subject of drug addiction in a very visual manner, the other being "Trainspotting". Through Jim's graphic writing you get too see the high that he got from taking drugs, but then you also see how ill it made him afterwards and how the addiction took control of his life and left his body ravaged.
The main star of "The Basketball Diaries" is Leonardo DiCaprio as Jim Carroll, although River Phoenix was originally the first choice for the role before he died in unfortunate circumstances. DiCaprio does a decent job of demonstrating the immense talent of Carroll and more importantly his demise into homelessness as well as drug addiction. DiCaprio was only 20 years old when he made this and he puts in a performance of someone who has been in the business a lot longer.
There are also some decent supporting performances which includes Mark Wahlberg as Jim's best friend Mickey. Like Jim, we see Mickey spiral into a world of hard drugs, but we also see how it makes his already violent temper become completely uncontrollable. Then there is Lorraine Bracco who plays Jim's mother, through her performance, we see a mother become broken hearted as her once good child turns into a lying, stealing drug addict. All the supporting cast put in very good performances in what must have been a hard film to shoot.
"The Basketball Diaries" is directed by Scott Kalvert, who prior to this had directed "Form… Focus… Fitness the Marky Mark Workout". With a fitness video as his credentials, Kalvert has done a fantastic job of directing this. With such a disturbing subject, he has made it real enough to make you feel disgusted but still makes it watch able. The scenes where Jim tries to beat his addiction by going through Cold Turkey makes me feel glad that I have never had to go through the experience; the pain that he suffered really shocked me. He has also shown that the one thing which was constant throughout this time was his writing; it was his one saving grace.
What this all boils down to is that "The Basketball Diaries" is a very gritty and disturbing movie which depicts one man's true story of drug addiction. It does not glamorize the world of drugs at all but shows it as it is a very nasty addiction which ruins your life.
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