Unique, lovely and important – but maybe one thing could be fixed.
Gina Prince-Bythewood has written and directed a unique, lovely and important romantic drama, with its own imagery of intimacy. I first saw this two decades later, but I’m sure the scene of childhood friends-then-lovers Monica (Sanaa Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps) icing eachother’s muscles after their respective basketball games has since its release become iconic.
Lathan and Epps are both so charismatic (I mean good Lord, the entire cast is beautiful), and while the story seems predictable and its ending perhaps inevitable, almost every step of the journey is earned by side-stepping clichés in setting and delivery… until the ending. I’m no Nando v Movies, but I feel that if the filmmakers had just fixed this one thing, the movie would be vastly improved.
As expected, the two children grow up as friends and then become lovers; then, as with young love, they grow apart. But this is a movie, and so they need to somehow end up together. The “somehow”, I feel, is where Love & Basketball, pardon me, drops the ball.
Had Monica broken up with Quincy, in order to pursue her own basketball career, and everything plays out exactly the same, culminating in her same line – “Basketball isn’t fun anymore without you” – then that signifies she’s learned and grown, and that line has real weight. Quincy then has a reason to take her back – now he could admit he’d only “moved on” because he had no choice, she was gone. But as it is: Quincy dumped Monica, and she (rightly) got on with her own life – so what is she fighting for?