Minding the Gap

Director: Bing Liu
Year Released: 2018
Rating: 2.5

Over the course of twelve years, documentarian Liu (in his feature debut) records himself and his friends Keire Johnson and Zack Mulligan skateboarding, hanging out and having fun as kids living in less-than-optimal Rockford, Illinois (which allegedly has a high rate of domestic violence) ... and follows them into "adulthood," with Zack struggling to be a proper parent to his son while Keire and the director try to emotionally recover from the physical abuse they experienced.  It begins with the casual air of youth but becomes significantly darker as it touches on socioeconomic factors - African-American Keire worries about spending too much time around Caucasians, they take on menial jobs for money, Zack's "baby mama" Nina seeks child support - and focuses a lot on male aggression, with Zack worrying if he's going to be a "bad father" himself because of his unstable personal life (he claims he's cut back on the drinking but it's abundantly clear he has not).  They regard "skating" as their desired form of therapy ("This device cures heartache"), but instead of seeking actual help from trained professionals, it turns into this sappy woe-is-me lament in which Liu isn't content until absolutely everyone - including himself and his own mother - is recorded crying (you can't force catharsis).  I personally know multiple people who are products of broken households and battle addiction and somehow get by: this story could be filmed in almost any city in the United States.  When it comes to the "race versus class" debate, The Powers That Be dwell on the former to avoid addressing the latter....