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Gaps (2023)


When a young girl, Sydney (Charli’ Gurl) realizes that she’s different from the other kids in her class, she’s ready to make a change. Sydney has Gaps in her teeth, and she hates them. However, these gaps are the family signature–and her parents want her to be proud of the way she looks. Conversations ensue, and Sydney’s future is up in the air.

While I believe that Gaps is technically a film made for audiences of all ages, it comes off like a film made for children–and rightfully so. Sydney is the subject of the film, and though people of all ages can sometimes struggle with their physical appearance, the one in which Sydney is most concerned with leans into the difficulties of a child. Writer-Director Jenn Shaw does a great job of creating something that will likely appeal to a variety of viewers, but she may lean just a little too much into the child-related aspects of the film.

Beyond being able to come to terms with your physical appearance, it seems that Shaw wants her viewers to learn as much as possible from Gaps. Every step of the way a new message rears its head and expresses to viewers its importance. Whether it’s trusting your family, being proud of who you are, or going after the things that you want in life–Gaps is educational. It teaches people about the world in which we live, and it also allows them the opportunity to learn about themselves. The film never relents in this regard, and Shaw does a wonderful job of ensuring that she reaches her viewers in one way or another. This is another reason I feel that the film will better appeal to children–because it expresses lessons that we tend to learn at a younger age, something that our parents, and their parents before them want their children to know as they go out into this vicious world.

I can’t get past the idea that while Shaw may have wanted her film to appeal to viewers of all ages, it’s ultimately going to be a film for kids. Every single actor from Gurl to her dad (Eldren Keys) overacts just a bit–exaggerating nearly every word that comes out of their mouths. For more mature audiences this seems silly, but for those younger, unknowing viewers this just adds to the allure of the film. I’m also torn in regard to the acting. I don’t know if the actors aren’t quite capable of showing emotion the way that I had hoped, or if Shaw directed them to perform this way. There are moments like this strewn throughout the course of Gaps, ones in which, as I analyzed them, I couldn’t be sure if they were intentional or if they just happened to work for a younger audience. Gaps is a tad silly, and that leads me to believe that everything was done intentionally–that it was meticulously planned.

Gaps is a film that either is so wonderfully put together or accidentally successful–but regardless of which it actually is, Shaw has created something that will likely find success. There are a series of hidden messages, the acting is a tad odd (for lack of a better word), and Gaps ultimately looks to appeal to a younger audience. So, while I believe that Shaw has developed a sound film–I don’t feel like the right audience.

Written & Directed by Jenn Shaw.

Starring Charli’ Gurl, Lorraine Toussaint, Pernell Walker, Eldren Keys, Olivia Altidor, etc.




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