‘Hoop Dreams’ with a feminist edge. In the States, girls’ high school basketball is almost as big as boys’, with touted talents hyped in the media and tussled over by top colleges. Unfortunately, this doc, following a reasonably successful Seattle high school girls’ team, feels too much part of that circus, and not enough like clear-eyed critique. It kicks off with team coach of seven years Bill Resler introducing us to basketball prodigy Darnellia Russell – ‘my only chance of being famous,’ he jokes. But you do wonder as the film trawls needlessly back through his quirky tenure (‘be packs of wolves… prides of lions… tropical storms!’ he tells his players), before mercifully settling down to the far more revealing story of how rising star Darnellia fell pregnant, dropped out of school for a year, then faced a battle with the education authorities to play again. The intrusive narration, from hip hopper Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, offers little sense of real lives unfolding, more of a way being paved to an, admittedly tense, all-American triumph-over-adversity climax. This should have been Darnellia’s tale, told straight-up; she’s the one who lifts this out of the ordinary.
Friday December 8 2006