Mind the Gap Movie Review

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Pleasantly patching the lives of five disparate characters, Eric Schaeffer's Mind the Gap is a richly textured study of simple interconnections that weave a provocative emotional terrain without ever veering too far into overly sentimental soap operatic situations.

Sam (Eric Schaeffer) is a single father who purchased an egg off the internet to fulfill his paternal needs after being left at the altar a decade before. Malissa (Elizabeth Reaser) takes care of an invalid mother who is embittered by thoughts of the life she could have had if not becoming a mother. Jody (Jill Sobule) is a soulful singer/songwriter with a pacemaker who refuses to leaves the New York borough of Queens until she gets a gig in the big city. John (Charles Parnell) is undergoing separation anxiety from his young son, who now lives in New York with his mother and a new father figure. And Herb (Alan King) is a cranky old-timer on a mission to reach the highest point in Manhattan to relive what he and his brother loved about New York's past.

Without getting into a heavy list of plot summaries, each of the characters is given just enough time to build a strong connection with the audience. There is thankfully no need to focus, and no extraneous time spent, on an arduous backstory. It's enough to know what their current objectives are and follow them on their eclectic journeys. Their eventual tenuous attachments to each other during the progress of the narrative is a salute to intelligently writing a script for the purpose of working with how small gestures affect a larger world instead of a naïve Screenwriting 101 need to have everything make sense so quickly.

Most touching about the humanist material is how it allows extreme situations to play out with such quiet grace that they become that much more powerful. When one character is contemplating suicide, the implication is shown with a short note written to his son that he's done nothing wrong. He's been an average, working stiff and even his purchase of a gun remains unclear until his pen begins running across the page. As Malissa is being bluntly told how little her presence means to the woman that bore her, all of the emotion is handled matter-of-factly instead of treading on the normal heavy melodrama that you would normally expect to ensue.

As poignant as the small details of life that assist in appreciating each character that comes on screen are, the determinedly ponderous pace also has a tendency to make you feel each of the 134 minutes of the film's length. As respectful as it is to build a solid story based on such an ambitious theme from an ensemble cast, there are times when attention can wane.

While there are moments that reek of pushing the various threads to an end quickly, a profound but not overwhelming sympathy has been built enough for each that the predictable closures are earned. As much as you might see a particular future coming, it's still just as rewarding to arrive in that individual's destination. Despite its flaws, Mind the Gap comes together as a beautiful portrait of seemingly unrelated ties that lead to important shifts in the lives of total strangers.

Play ball.

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Mind the Gap Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG, 2004

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