Minding the Gap
Studio: The Criterion Collection
Jan 19, 2021
The first Hulu original film to be released as part of The Criterion Collection, Bing Liu’s Minding The Gap is one of the most emotional and affecting documentaries of the past decade. Set in the economically depressed city of Rockford, Illinois, the film follows the lives of three skateboarders – Zack, Keire, and Liu himself – as they try to get through the turbulence of adulthood while reflecting on their tumultuous pasts.
Starting off as an innocent-seeming skateboarder film, the documentary quickly transitions into a poignant and harrowing look at the adverse power of parental abuse, and how its negative effects can follow people through their entire lives, affecting everything they do. The film presents a lot to process, as in just 93 minutes, Liu explores trauma, friendship and the difficulty of pursuing a dream in a very unique and unforgettable way.
In stylistic terms, Minding The Gap follows the documentary formula: talking heads interviews, archival footage, vérité filmmaking capturing the subjects personal lives, and footage of the subjects skating around Rockford, performing tricks and cruising through the almost always empty streets. It is the way these four elements work together that makes Liu’s film unlike any other. Liu weaves the three subjects’ lives into one, in the process, adding complexity to their already very complex stories. This is most evident in the film’s second half, where Liu turns the camera on his mother, interrogating her about the abuse he faced as a child and her complicity during that time.
Along with a new digital master of the film, The Criterion Collection’s physical release of the film includes many extra features that make the edition worth a buy. There are two new audio commentaries, which include all three of the documentary’s main subjects. Additionally, the physical edition of the film includes interviews with some of the film’s producers, as well as Liu, and a not-to-be-missed conversation with skateboarding icon Tony Hawk.