Hopes on Hoops

“Hoop Dreams” is purported to be the best documentary ever and according to movie critic Roger Ebert, it’s the best film of the 1990’s. Such credentials may turn heads but will also raise expectations. The documentary chronicles the lives of two inner city kids (William Gates and Arthur Agee) who dream of playing pro in the NBA. We follow them for about five years, mostly during high school in the early 1990s.

“Hoop Dreams” is good but the time and place take time getting used to. I do think it’s a chore to watch for 3 hours but I was still eager to know its conclusion, anticipating some dread since I never came across these two basketball players in the NBA. But the documentary isn’t all about the outcome. It’s about the pursuit of a dream which isn’t even exclusive to William and Arthur. They also share it with barking coaches, has-been siblings, absent or irresponsible fathers and heroic mothers. This claustrophobic dream sharing is what I found the most fascinating and heartbreaking. The two boys lose a sense of their identity, with people telling them what to do. Can they ever live up to their expectations? Will they ever find themselves? All they can do is put their will to work and their hopes through hoops. They aren’t playing just basketball anymore though their lives have unnaturally turned into a simplified game of win or lose.

Grade: B+