Some may think that high school is where bad encounters happen. “The Basketball Diaries” takes these types of encounters to a whole different level. Scott Kalvert directs this gripping true story of the legendary Jim Carroll (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). The film is stunning, powerful, and so intense where it may be hard after a one-time viewing. The story of a young boy that was a great basketball player, a brilliant writer, a heavy drug user. However, drugs are not the only concern on terms of Carroll’s behavior, but also who is involved with him.
We meet Jim Carroll, a boy who lives with his mother (Lorraine Bracco) in an apartment in New York. Carroll writes consistently. He writes poems about his life. He is also on the basketball team of his high school with his teammates (other bad influences) Pedro (James Madio), Mickey (Mark Wahlberg), and Neutron (Patrick McGaw). They plan to be the top championship team in the nation. They think they can multitask with being troublemakers at certain portions of their life and play professional basketball, but as soon as their friend Bobby (Michael Imperioli) gets really sick, their behavior with drugs and alcohol becomes increasingly worse. Worse to the point where their privileges of being in school is on the line along with being able to participate in playing basketball.
The real Jim Carroll did the writing for “The Basketball Diaries.” The film consists of narrations throughout on what he is writing. I found the film’s narrations to be enticing because the writing is where the intensity portion of the movie plays in. As Carroll states in a scene where he is playing a basketball game saying, “I play like a cheetah,” that states the type of cheetah he is throughout the movie. Carroll not a good one, he is a naughty one.
What I found amusing though about the movie is how some characters become increasingly worse in the film. Pedro and Mickey are somewhat worse than Jim. They think it is worth taking someone’s life to get out alive and get drugs. Jim is against that because one side of his mind knows there is still good in him, but the other side is his addiction to drugs. DiCaprio plays the part of having withdrawals so well, that viewers cannot help but watch.
I think this movie is good, not amazing, but good. Just I feel some of the heavy and violent focuses get out of hand. What held my most attention was the storytelling through the writing of Carroll. I found that to be the honest portions of “The Basketball Diaries.” The writing contains explosive, yet heavy information that viewers will not be able to let go.