A shared comfort often comes from a shared pain…
Minding The Gap is a stunning debut (now available on DVD and Blu-Ray from our friends at the Criterion Collection) which highlights how the shared experiences of life can truly help us heal as we all try to avoid the sins of those who came before us.
Welcome to Rockford, Illinois, in the heart of Rust-Belt America, home to debut filmmaker Bing Liu. With over 12 years of footage, Bing discovers connections between two of his skateboarder friends’ volatile upbringings and the complexities of modern-day masculinity. As the film unfolds, Bing captures 23-year-old Zack’s tumultuous relationship with his girlfriend deteriorate after the birth of their son and 17-year-old Keire struggling with his racial identity as he faces new responsibilities following the death of his father. While navigating a difficult relationship between his camera and his friends, Bing weaves a story of generational forgiveness while exploring the precarious gap between childhood and adulthood.
To put it simply, Minding The Gap isn’t the movie that you think it’s going to be as it’s both a beautiful look at the friendship and camaraderie that comes from the sport of skateboarding but is also a cold and brutal look at the cracking of family values and how the patterns of abuse can’t always be broken.
In his debut feature, Bing Liu has crafted something that has a shocking ease about it and as we watch it all unfold the heavier parts of the story almost sneak up on us to hammer us right in the emotional sweet spot.
Liu eases us in to this story about his life and his friends through skateboarding as he expertly navigates his way in and out of the streets shooting some pretty amazing footage but when the action calms down is when it gets all the more interesting.
As he shows the perils that both his friends Zack and Keire are faced with as they grow up over the course of the years he not only ties it in to some very personal revelations about his own life but into the bonding and shared healing that all three of these young men have pulled from the sport of skateboarding.
There’s a cathartic energy to the visual poetry that Liu puts on screen which makes this something that you wouldn’t have necessarily seen from an experienced filmmaker. We see a shared trauma with these three young men and both the successful and unsuccessful attempts to break free of the patterns that we’re instilled in them from an early age.
In many ways this film feels like Cassavettes and Almodovar had a child who grew up to make skate videos as it is showing the visual maturity of an artist who had something that they just had to get off their chest. It’s a movie for anyone who has felt the pains of abuses and the genuine struggle it is to not repeat the patterns that they experienced firsthand and it all makes for a therapeutic experience that pays honest tribute to the emotional lows and joyous highs that come out of friendship, the concrete jungle of suburbia and that moment when you know you have to move on.
The picture and sound quality are first rate with a new high def transfer approved by director Bing Liu along with a 5.1 DTS-HD sound mix. There are two new feature length audio commentaries; one featuring Liu and one feature Liu and his subjects Keire Johnson and Zack Mulligan. There’s also a new follow up/conversation between Liu and subject Nina Bowgren. There’s new interviews featuring pro skateboarder Tony Hawk and Liu as well as executive producer Gordon Quinn and producer Diane Quan. There’s four scenes left on the cutting room floor with introductions by Liu as well as Liu’s 2010 short film Nuoc which is about two Vietnamese immigrants growing up American.
For better or for worse; Minding The Gap is really an encapsulation of real life and how our past experiences can define who we become in the future. Warts and all, it’s a film that reminds us that it’s truly up to us to make this entire experience on this big blue ball called Earth, the best we can possibly make it.