Monday, January 21, 2019

Documentary Review: Minding the Gap (2018)

Copyright: Hulu
Growing up might be hard, but skating towards adulthood seems to be even harder in Minding the Gap. This documentary came about through 12 years of footage of the kids who lived and breathed skating in their hometown of Rockford, Illinois which was even then considered one of the prime Rust Belt locations.

Driven by dysfunctional families where violence was an apparent norm parent-children relationship, three friends try to find an emotional valve, a meaning of life and a chance for a better future in each other and their wheeled boards.

Bing Liu, the director of this fascinating documentary, managed to take the notion of a skate video and blew it up out of proportion in the best possible way. The movie opens like any film shot on a skateboard that follows people riding their own.

It’s about freedom and friendship, goofing around and having the means to be unchained from the grim everyday reality of a place that is in the middle of the US, but at the same time, it could be in any failing states around the world.

In other words, it is all there, but at the same time, for Kiere, Zack, and Bing, it might as well be in some other world they can only see, touch and skate upon, but not really experience. For them, only broken homes and piled-up bedrooms await once the wheels stop rolling and the drunken parties end.

This is how the film turns in on itself, showing a process of maturing to adulthood that is difficult and straining, while at the same time it opens wounds, some of which can make new ones on other people. It does not provide the answers, only chronicles this process with the utmost tenderness and caring for its subjects. Some might see a chance for a new start in the film's end, while others will see only a new cycle of the quiet family suffering where the abused kids of yesterday becoming men (and abusers) of today.

But, regardless of that, Minding the Gap is an incredible film about that intangible process where kids become adults, bridging that unfathomable gap where they lose everything and hopefully find themselves at the end of the journey.