You may not know the name Aulcie Perry, but in Israel the former basketball center is a legend – like “Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in one”, as a sportswriter in the documentary “Aulcie” puts it. Through interviews, archival footage and illustrated sequences, the film, directed by Dani Menkin, offers a viscous biography of the overseas famed athlete whose career was eventually derailed by a heroin addiction.
Born in Newark, NJ, the six-foot-tall Perry always saw basketball as his calling. Hopes drove him to the NBA, but after being promptly expelled from the Knicks, Perry took a chance: he accepted a spot at Maccabi Tel Aviv. The team proved to be a close match and Perry led Maccabi to European Champions Cup victories in 1977 and 1981, before drug addiction and a trafficking charge forced him to retire from his remarkable career.
There’s an infectious tension in the film’s portrayal of the subject’s achievements, especially his whirlwind romance with Israeli supermodel Tami Ben Ami. But when it comes to Perry’s moments of struggle, “Aulcie” stumbles. Schmaltzy music and fuzzy photos tug at hearts, and images of Perry missing shots on an empty lane are often used as a superficial visual metaphor for hardship. The film also refuses to engage with the evolving politics or culture of Israel and what Perry fit into, opting instead for a melodramatic portrayal of a star who fell too soon.
Not judged. In English and Hebrew, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes. In theaters and on virtual cinemas.