Basketball Diaries directed by Scott Kalvert stars Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio as Jim Carroll. Basketball Diaries is a concerted but failed attempt to do justice to Carroll’s book. However, the acting from DiCaprio is unforgettable. He plays Jim Carroll, a young aspiring basketball player, who also is a talented writer. The film chronicles this creatively talented poet and his horrifying story developing a substance abuse problem in an urban setting. (Kalvert, Basketball Diaries).

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The profound message of the movie is related to the horrors of how a young man can easily become addicted to drugs, and the outcome is frightening. The film is based on a true story made it more fascinating, and thus makes it even more disheartening (Kalvert, Basketball Diaries). Caroll voice-overs narrate the film, which enhances the real life feel making each scene memorable. It shows the journey that one must take when addicted to drugs.

Carroll spends most of his days writing or roaming the streets of New- York playing basketball, hustling, stealing, getting high and searching for dope. All morality is put aside just to make sure he has enough money for heroin. As a result of drug use, Caroll faints while playing a basketball game he is expelled from school. The last scene in the film ends with the audience watching him enter a room where it appears he is narrating his story of how his drug abuse lead to his downfall, and once he hit “rock bottom”, he was able to begin recovery. Personally, I think despite limited opportunities it is in our power to pursue a life of achievement and one must have a strong sense of self and will power to avoid a path life may appear exciting, but will most likely end in death or extreme despair. I would recommend this film to anyone who wants insight into the life of a young man caught up in the dark and alluring drug scene in New York. The film certainly can be used to help in the campaign to prevent teens from experimenting with drugs, and provides a real-life depiction of the risk of the terrifying consequences of doing so.

  • The Basketball Diaries. Dir. Scott. Kalvert. Perf. Leonardo DiCaprio. 1995. DVD.