Basketball Diaries [1995]

Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama
The pre-Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Jim Carroll, the poet and musician who spent much of his adolescence addicted to heroin and shooting hoops with fellow Catholic high school kids. As a biography, the film doesn't amount to more than the sum of its gritty scenes of smack use, violence, perversions (poor Bruno Kirby plays a lecherous coach who comes on to young Jim), and the usual scream-and-puke dramas that go along with a cold-turkey session. Director Scott Kalvert doesn't seem to realize that most people don't know who Carroll is and therefore can't possibly understand why they should care about his gutterball youth. DiCaprio, having nowhere to go with his performance but maintain Carroll's tailspin, is boring and redundant. Some kind of allusion to the literary and rock & roll life that follows the mess we're watching might have been helpful. --Tom Keogh

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