First time feature filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood takes her writing talents to the big screen in her directorial debut, Love And Basketball. With detail and emotion, she follows the lives of Quincy (Omar Epps) and Monica (Sanaa Lathan) as they grow from children to adults. Like a real basketball game, Love And Basketball progresses through four separate quarters. A clever and unique thought, this show’s close to being a winner.
1st quarter Childhood. Tip off is a bit rocky when we first meet Quincy and Monica at age eleven. The two are immediate adversaries, both on and off the court, yet they can’t help but be drawn to each other’s talents and drive. This entire relationship is developed within ten minutes of screen time and is rushed through much too quickly. Kyla Pratt (Young Monica) and Glendon Chatman (Young Quincy) deserve more. Pratt’s tomboy persona and mouthy attitude are simply hilarious. And Chatman’s machismo is all too real.
2nd quarter – High school. Quincy and Monica are halfway grown up, with a primary focus on basketball. Like in childhood, the two thrive off of fighting with each other. Characterization is much more developed as the relationship is built. The slow discovery of love is both tender and real, with every emotion clearly shown on the actors’ faces.
3rd quarter College. Quincy and Monica, now full-fledged lovers, face their toughest challenge: is their love for each other stronger than their love for basketball? With grueling schedules and different priorities, the two are torn apart. The same thing that brought them together is the very thing that comes between them. Ah, the irony.
4th quarter Adulthood. You think I’m going to tell you how the game ends? Think again.
All I can really say about Love And Basketball is that it’s extremely average. It’s a simple love story centered around high-energy basketball. Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan have pure chemistry, and are able to carry the sometimes long story through it’s most sluggish of times. It’s no playoff game, but it still packs a few thrills.
+ Ashley Adams