Oscar-nominated earlier this year, Bing Liu’s debut feature doc follows a group of skateboarding friends in Rockford, Illinois as they try and make the transition to adulthood.
The skating footage is of ups and downs, bumps and crashes, and also of a tremendous, punkish freedom of reclaiming the streets, the rails, the concourses, the steps.
Clearly, however, the bruises sustained in these stunts go deep and the emotional ups and downs of life take their toll. One kid struggles with being a Dad, alcoholism, getting a job; Bing himself puts the camera on his Mum to ask her why she married such a bastard of a step-dad; another reveals the racism and baiting and poverty he had to navigate. Skateboarding was a means to a family and a purpose for these boys, but it doesn’t last.
This is a tender, empathetic film, rather sad of course, and couched under a low-level depression. But its moments of joy and breakthrough gladden the heart.