Three new movies were beamed to me from the satellite last night: Romeo Must Die, Scream 3, and Love and Basketball. I think you can guess which one I watched.
Love and Basketball is one of those unambiguous titles that tells you exactly what the story is about. The trouble is, I'm not sure who the intended audience is. It's a little too much of a love story for basketball fans, and, well, vice versa. (There is one amazing basketball scene, shown through the eyes of a player at the end of a championship game, that gave me chills.)
It was the romantic side of the story that held my interest. Young basketball players living next door to each other grow up on different tracks that keep leading them back to each other. Sure, you can make a pretty accurate guess about the ending after the first scene, but the joy is in the journey.
The different ways boys and girls are taught to think about their places in society are tempered by the inner forces that drive each of the characters. The remarkable thing about this movie is the way their lives mirror each other. One has it easier because he's a boy with natural talent. The other works harder because she's a girl and has more to prove.
But as the boy becomes a man, he finds he's unprepared for the trappings and temptations of success. His self-image deteriorates as he makes poor decisions and finds himself unable to live his dream to the fullest.
Meanwhile, the girl finds that the hard work that has made her an athletic success has deprived her of a life that would make her truly fulfilled. Both of these characters have to choose, not between love and basketball, but simply how much of their happiness depends on each.