The Basketball Diaries movie review - Aussieboyreviews


The film isn’t as explicit as similar films such as Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream, but it’s still gonna make you sick to your stomach. DiCaprio gives an exceptional performance in this gritty drug drama.


A promising high school basketball player finds his dreams of becoming a basketball star in jeopardy when he spirals down into the harrowing world of drug addiction, homelessness, crime and prostitution.

Movie Images

Movie details

Director: Scott Kalvert
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, James Madio, Mark Wahlberg, Patrick McGaw, Lorraine Bracco, Bruno Kirby, Ernie Hudson, Michael Imperioli
Writer: Bryan Goluboff
Release Date (Australia): 14 September 1995
Runtime: 102 minutes/1h 42m
Genre: Biography, Drama
Country: USA
Language: English

CONTENT GUIDE (warning: May contain spoilers)

Themes (R18+)

The film contains themes of drug addiction and drug use that results in withdrawals, as well as criminal activity, prostitution, murder, sexual abuse and a fantasy scene depicting a school shooting.

Violence (M)

The film contains a fantasy scene depicting a school shooting with accompanying blood detail.

Coarse Language (MA15+)

The film contains frequent use of the word “f**k”.

Drug Use (R18+)

The film contains drug themes, in addition to multiple depictions of characters injecting themselves with heroin, snorting cocaine and smoking marijuana. There are also verbal references to drugs.

Nudity (PG)

The film contains partially exposed breasts nudity and brief male buttocks nudity.

Sex (M)

The film contains verbal sexual references and use of the word “f**k” in a sexualised context, as well as scenes of implied masturbation and oral sex.

mpaa rating

R (for graphic depiction of drug addiction with related strong violence, sexuality and language)

Aussie boy's thoughts

A young Leonardo DiCaprio gives a masterclass performance in this flawed drug drama lacking of tension, with rushed screenwriting and a lead character who you never really empathise with. It just feels like another fairly watchable don’t-do-drugs movie, except without the depths or depression of similar crafts such as Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream. It’s underwhelming to say the least.

The Basketball Diaries portrays the true story of Jim Carroll, a promising high school basketball player who finds his dreams of becoming a basketball star in jeopardy when he falls into the harrowing world of drug addiction. DiCaprio is the real reason to consider watching this movie, mostly just in anticipation and the arrival of scenes in which his performance manages to churn our stomachs and leave us feeling sick by the end.

Unfortunately, this is mostly a very wearying film wandering around with pacing issues, a failing message and an atrocious script. Most of the problems are issued by the script however. Supporting actors don’t have a lot to work off of, making their performances feel very drowsy and unrelated to the story, the narration is very bland and boring, and many moments just come off as completely unrealistic.

Thank you for reading this page and for more Aussie Boy reviews, visit