2018, Movies

Minding the Gap (2018, Bing Liu)

This is an affecting documentary about three skateboarders in Rockford, Illinois that is really about [redacted for spoilers, see the review]. It’s a moving film that is very much worth your time.

SPOILERS (though nothing you won’t find out about if you read about this movie)

I think it’s really smart to make a film about domestic violence that poses as a documentary about skateboarders, at least initially. Most people aren’t going to sit down to watch a film about three kids who have grown up in a city where it feels like you can’t go anywhere, who have survived domestic violence, and who happen to find an escape in skateboarding. At least I don’t think so. But when it seems like it’s about skateboarders, that’s a much better in.

The film is very much of a certain ilk, filmed while people hang out, with only the occasional actual formal interview. The score is pretty of it’s time and the whole thing had a very similar vibe to a lot of independent documentaries I’ve seen made in the 00s and 10s.

But this film focuses on two compelling personalities and their friend the filmmaker, and those around them, and slowly reveals what it is really about rather than just getting to it immediately. Yes, that’s also a common trope but it’s done well here. We know these kids before we get into the nitty gritty. It was filmed over 8 years (though only a few clips are from that long ago) so there is a lot of material of these kids just living.

I found it quite affecting and I’m very glad I watched it. My only read nitpick is that I sometimes could tell when he was rearranging scenes out of order and sometimes I couldn’t. Usually it was based either on their haircuts or the age of the baby. It does feel like there’s some artifice there that you can see.

Still very worth watching.


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