Highway Gospel – Review

Highway Gospel

Highway Gospel succeeds very well at managing to inform, excite, and connect with somebody like me who’s completely ignorant of skateboarding and skateboarding culture. It introduces us to a whole host of interesting people; from Bricin whose utter passion for the sport is made unmistakably clear in his extremely vibrant longboard downhill racing announcements, to the identifiable and inspiring Claude Regnier, whose battle to continue with skateboarding, as a participant and as a teacher, is fought on both financial and health grounds. Many people that we meet are so extreme that a documentary could run the risk of making them out as mere characters; however, Highway Gospel puts flesh and blood into them, in part due to the hands off approach that it takes, but also because it has the ability to honestly convey the fervour that they have for their lifestyle without falling back on cheap tricks or trying to tell us what to think.

It may be a little bewildering at first for the uninitiated such as myself, but very quickly skateboarding culture is transformed from a foreign and unreadable phenomena, and into a thriving and involving community. Over the course of the film I felt that I was getting to know these people, befriending them, feeling for them, and I felt a part of both the celebrations and the struggles that they go though almost as if I was there. Regnier provides the strongest emotional story that we follow, he appears unguarded and honest as he details the impact that recurrent health problems and open heart surgery has had on his life and his passion. We follow him through a trying phase in his life; on top of his health issues he has to deal with the potential closure of the skate park which he runs and teaches children at. On top of that he is also constantly training for upcoming competitions and fighting off remarks that he is perhaps too old to continue skating. There’s enough material here for an entire film and he was for me the most affecting and exciting person to watch.

Still, the film doesn’t want to focus on any one place or account, and it excellently navigates between a considerable number of moments, stories, and views on the sport in order to keep us informed and interested. We are kept consistently entertained by the devotion and fun that permeates through the entire of the skateboarding culture as we are shown here. I don’t want to sound ignorant and claim to understand the love and passion that these guys have for their lifestyle, I don’t know that, I haven’t even so much as picked up a board in my life. But this documentary made me feel that I did, at least for a short while I felt wrapped up in that culture, and that’s a pretty fantastic achievement. I strongly recommend this debut documentary by Jaret Belliveau and Craig Jackson, they have managed to produce an exciting and thrilling documentary that’s left me somewhat humbled; no longer will I think of skateboarders as purely being nuisances on the road, I have tasted a very little of the love that they hold for the experience, and I can’t easily write that off.

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20 comments

  1. Great write up. I had just heard of this recently but wasn’t sure if I’d give it a go. All I know about skateboarding is that a) I am bad at it in real life and b) I rock at it when it comes to the Tony Hawk game. 😉

    1. Thanks 🙂
      Haha! Well I would definitely recommend you watch it; I enjoyed it and I’ve never tried in real life and I suck at the game!

  2. I used to skate in the day, got chased by cops and banned from malls. Lol. I feel like I was part of the movement that paved the way for the new generation of skaters.

    Going to have to check this film out, great review buddy.

    1. Haha, sounds like this would be pretty perfect for you then 😀 Thanks!

  3. Fantastic review. I had no idea about this. I’m not certain I’ll be seeing it, but you made it sound appealing for those that are interested!

    1. Cheers! I wouldn’t normally seek out something like this but I was glad to have seen it.

  4. Natalie P · · Reply

    Nice review, it’s interesting that it has changed your views somewhat. Will you be taking skateboarding up? 🙂

    1. Thanks Natalie 🙂 Haha, no I won’t – I think I would be pretty terrible at it!

  5. Cool review man. I had never heard of this film at all. Sounds interesting, might have to check it out.

    1. Thanks man, it would be worth your time if you can.

  6. Great review, thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    1. Cheers! No problem. I hope that you get the chance to see it 🙂

  7. Claude Regnier · · Reply

    Thank you for the great review and kind words. I thought Craig and Jaret did a great job putting it together.

    Really glad you enjoyed the doc.

    Sincerely,

    CER

    1. No problem, I’m glad that you like the review.
      Craig and Jaret certainly did do a great job!

      Regards,

      James.

  8. Hmmmm interesting, as an East Coast transplant now living on the West Coast I struggle to see the appeal of skateboarding. On the other hand I could totally relate to surfing, you’re at the beach, surrounded by hot chicks wearing next to nothing and you’re drinking beer.
    Perhaps this film would help me understand the culture a bit more.

    Say if you get a chance swing by our humble film blog and give it a look see.

    1. Surfing, from what little of it I have done, is great 😀
      I would give this a watch, it certainly helped me get something of a grip on the skateboarding culture.
      Sure thing, I’m pretty certain that I follow you on Facebook, but I don’t wind up on your site as often as I should – that’s now rectified, just headed over there 😀

      1. sweet thanks so much 😉

        1. No problem 😀

  9. Great piece of writing! Completely agree with you – it really does make you feel like you know these people. The passion for their sport is incredibly moving, even for non-boarders like me!

    1. Thanks Natalie! Yeah it completely shocked me just how much this involved and moved me. It was very well done.
      Thanks for commenting 🙂

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