This first feature is a tale of 'four quarters', each marking a milestone in the lives of two kids from a leafy LA suburb. Basketball-crazy neighbours Monica (Lathan) and Quincy (Epps) are rivals-cum-true loves chasing NBA ambitions. All is not equal: he plays to crowds and fends off groupies; she makes do with a poster of Magic Johnson and a mom who doesn't show up to games. Affluent hoop dreams? It's still different for girls. Writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood turns what might have been an undemanding sporty-spice romance into a delicately executed, asskicking reminder of the obstacles faced by young women with zero interest in cheerleading. Her film takes its love of sport (and sexual politics) seriously, yet maintains broad appeal - not least because of the sympathy extended to its characters. It offers an unusual perspective on female alienation and the desire for emotional attachment, while intelligent questions about gender are never far from the surface. Stylishly shot and bursting with visual and sexual energy, this is confident black women's film-making and an eloquent tribute to the girl with the permanently grazed knees - and about time too.
Cast and crew
Harry J Lennix