Review: ‘Mind the Gap’

Mind the Gap" is a straightforward documentary study of 31-year-old Torsten Engelholz, a slightly mentally retarded man who overcame a horrendous childhood and who now happily works in a small theater as a designer. "Shine" it's not, but this portrait of a gifted man who has overcome his handicaps should appeal to tube viewers in many territories. Torsten, an engaging, intelligent personality, talks candidly about a childhood in which he was often kept in the dark and was sometimes so thirsty he had to drink his own urine. Reason for this inhumane treatment remains unclear, but Torsten later spent time in a psychiatric hospital and went without schooling; he now refers to his "educational poverty."

He is bright as a button, however, when it comes to his theater work and his hobby, which is riding around on the Berlin subway system. He hopes, he says, to see far more underground train lines in the coming years, and has even drawn up plans for the track work.

In the theater he occasionally takes on an acting role, and is seen rehearsing for a role in “Woyzeck.” But mainly he acts as a set designer, painting bold, colorful backdrops. Touchingly, he speaks about his yearning for love. Yet despite that lack, he seems happy with his life.

This is a modest film about a simple man who has forged a life for himself against the odds. Though it would play better in the hourlong format, filmmaker Elfi Mikesch has come up with a likable portrait.

Mind the Gap

German

Production

A Mediopolis Film production, in association with WDR. Produced by Annedore von Donop. Directed, written by Elfi Mikesch.

Crew

Camera (color), Mikesch; editor, Heide Breitel; music, Laszlo Waszlavik, Roland Steckel; sound, Lilly Grote; assistant director, Grote. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 20, 1997. Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Torsten Ricardo Engelholz.
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