The Basketball Diaries

D: Scott Kalvert
New Line/Island (Liz Heller)
USA 🇺🇸 1995
102 mins
W: Brian Goluboff [based on the book by Jim Carroll]
DP: David Phillips
Ed: Dana Congdon
Mus: Graeme Revell
Leonardo DiCaprio (Jim Carroll), Lorraine Bracco (Mrs. Carroll), Bruno Kirby (Swifty), Ernie Hudson (Reggie), Patrick McGaw (Neutron), James Madio (Pedro), Mark Wahlberg (Mickey), Michael Imperioli (Bobby)
Based on Jim Carroll's autobiographical memoirs of his own teenage years, when he descended from a promising student & basketball player at a catholic school into a world of drug-addiction, petty crime and prostitution.
Carroll's book once caused a sensation in-print, but Director Kalvert makes a huge error relocating the story to present day New York City, while the narrated poetry of the precocious writer feels incredibly pretentious.
The performances are decent without being entirely convincing, while the insinuation that Carroll kicked his habit on his own, with the aid of his poetry, is incredibly difficult to swallow.
Should have been a whole lot better- and would have been had the story been presented during the 1960's as it was when it was in print.

The cast of The Basketball Diaries
The cast of The Basketball Diaries
Did You Know:
A popular misconception holds that River Phoenix was set to play the lead before tragically dying on the Los Angeles sidewalk. This is not entirely accurate. Phoenix was a big fan of the book, and as the film version entered various stages of readiness, he was always the front runner. However, prior to his death, he had declined the role, due to a combination of feeling he was too old to play a fifteen year old, and trying to broaden his range with more adult roles.