Directed by Robert Bell III, Hoop is a coming-of-age story which tells the tale of protagonist Hoop, a lonely boy stuck in the ruts of life that surround him.
As a child, Hoop was fascinated with playing basketball but suffered an injury that set him back with his life plans. The film, after this intro, then cuts to Hoop as a grown man, and plays out this way in an almost Moonlight-like manner.
Hoop is abstract, in one word, and takes an ethereal, liberal approach to storytelling in its extended takes and moments of quiet, again, much as Moonlight does. Shots play out for quite a bit longer than they normally would in a film, but this is mostly justified as part of director Robert Bell III’s style and vision, almost existing in isolation inside Hoop’s head, communicating his thoughts of loneliness, and not belonging onto the screen. In the way Hoop might not fully engage with a conversation, the camera floats through the action without fully “engaging”; this does mean the film occasionally comes close to being boring and inaccessible, but is also an interesting approach to analyzing Hoop’s character. Furthermore, the film’s visuals are interesting and do engage the audience in other ways. Cinematographer Stephen Dekemper takes a blue hue as his main colour and tone, almost existing in a strange space between colour, and black and white, and this emits a sense of emotion in the world surrounding Hoop. Some moments were too dark but again, the tone justifies this.
Overall, I enjoyed Hoop for its courage to approach what could have been a very talky, dialogue-heavy coming-of-age story as a piece of abstract filmmaking. I found the editing to be a little off in places, in particular, the placement of music in moments of character silence; it sometimes became too overwrought and played where it’d be nice to have some real sounds, or silence. Nevertheless, this worked well in places, in particular, the film’s final sequence; occasional moments of beauty like this sequence really do hold the film together. The end credits song was, for me, a highlight of a well-crafted and interesting soundtrack. Clearly the film is very personal, and for this Hoop has to be respected in that it’s a personal story made by someone who loves what they’re telling us, in a way that is pertinent to themselves.
If given the opportunity to watch Hoop, do so. It’s a three-pointer for sure, and not far from being a total domination on the court.