Minding the Gap (2018) <><><><>

This documentary is nominated for an Oscar this year and can be seen on Hulu. It follows three friends, Kiere Johnson, Bing Liu, and Zack Mulligan, as they become adults in Rockford, IL. Bing Liu is the director and inserts himself into the story in a creative way.


This documentary reminded me of people I have met around where I grew up. Certain views on the world and education expressed in this movie echo what I have heard friends and friends of friends say. I was drawn in quickly to the story and enjoyed seeing these people's lives evolve over a few years.


Minding the Gap is a skateboarding reference when clearing an obstacle. Skateboarding is an outlet for all three of these young men for similar reasons; it is an escape. The movie does a stellar job of slowly revealing the reason why they all skated so much. Those same stimuli, that pushed the boys to skate, have had lasting effects on their lives. This film allows Kiere, Bing and Zack, to explore how they will use their past experiences throughout their lives.


Kiere is black. Despite having many white friends, he has to deal with being black. It is a constant in his life that he has adapted to. Seeing his interactions with his family reveals more about him. It is an interesting exploration in a small way of what it is like to grow up in america as a black man.


Bing's largest on-screen presence is when he interviews his mother. It is an emotionally powerful moment for both Bing and his mom. This is the part of the film that Bing gives up control of the camera. It isn't a pleasant discussion, but it is one of the few moments we get to see him vulnerable.


Zack can't be discussed without Nina and their child. He struggles with manhood, adulthood, and fatherhood all at once in his early twenties. If i had one criticism of the film, it is that we don't see Zack open up with 100% honesty about his upbringing. It always feels like he is holding back something. His relationship with Nina and their son is a substitute or stand-in for what the rest of his story lacks. There is probably a reason we don't hear from Zack's parents, but it felt like a noticeable absence to me.


I don't think this should win the Oscar, Free Solo is where my money is. Minding the Gap is a great documentary that every young male should watch. I highly recommend seeing it to everyone at any stage in their life.

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©2019 by Sean Whitehurst