Deep in the heart of the American Rust Belt lies Rockford, Illinois. Growing up here, all you can look forward to is unemployment and poverty. But three high school friends find an outlet through skateboarding, and one of them, Bing Liu, films all their adventures. What he also captures is the abruptness with which they are catapulted into adulthood, with its dead-end jobs, babies, and reflections on what it actually means to be a man. Years later he returns to his hometown to find out what has happened to his friends.
The director breaks pretty much every rule of documentary filming: he appears in his own film, and sometimes talks directly to camera. At one point Minding the Gap even resembles a therapy session, with the filmmaker processing the abuse he suffered from his father and warning his friend Zack that he’s in danger of ending up in the same vicious circle of alcoholism and violence. But Liu comes through with flying colors, because everything about this film is authentic. He uses it to paint a very topical portrait of an American generation that’s in danger of being forgotten.