Sundance Film Festival reviews: “Minding the Gap” unfocused but surprisingly moving


By Jenniffer Wardell

Not rated

Directed by Bing Liu

Grade: Two and a half stars

 

Growing up isn’t easy, but it can be rewarding.

That’s the truth behind “Minding the Gap,” an unfocused but surprisingly moving look at three young men growing up in a small impoverished town. The three wrestle with past abuse, departed parents, the struggles of having a child, and redefining themselves the face of adult responsibilities.

The movie, which is tied together with some remarkably entrancing skateboard shots, follows three skateboarding friends through several years of growing up. Liu is one of the three, and appears onscreen both in old footage and a few newer shots meant directly for the documentary. The more in-depth stories, however, focus on his two friends – Kiere, a young black man who has complicated feelings for his dead father and struggles to get out of town, and Zack, a young father who struggles to stay away from alcohol and make something of his life.

Though the documentary is a moving look at young men struggling with their place in the world, and the impact of our youthful friendships over time, it’s less focused on the issue of abuse. I understand why Liu wants to speak of it, but it’s clear he still isn’t sure how he feels about it. That fact, unfortunately, leaves the entire arc feeling unfocused, shimmering with some truly interesting moments but never gelling together into a greater whole.

 

(Photo by Bing Liu | Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (Photo by Bing Liu | Courtesy of Sundance Institute)

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