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Hide Your Smiling Faces


Stars: Ryan Jones, Nathan Varnson, Colm O'Leary, Thomas Cruz, Christina Starbuck, Chris Kies, Andrew Chamberlain, Ivan Tomic, Clark Middleton, Annaliese Jorgensen-Lockhart

Director: Daniel Patrick Carbone

Another coming of age drama, this debut movie made on a patently miniscule budget by debut writer-director-editor Daniel Patrick Carbone benefits from a cast with no familiar faces (remember Nicolas Cage seeking to resuscitate his acting credentials in Joe?) and well photographed (Nick Bentgen) attractive rural locations that could be almost anywhere in the United States - which tends to strand the story in a dramatic limbo.

The plot, such as there is, is catalysed by the discovery by a boy of his younger brother’s friend lying dead under a bridge. After that, it’s probably best to let Carbone sum up the story with “After a neighborhood tragedy, two adolescent brothers confront changing relationships, the mystery of nature, and their own mortality. Hide Your Smiling Faces is an atmospheric exploration of rural American life through the often distorted lens of youth”.

Carbone deserves some praise for the relatively realistic performances he extracts from his young cast (the relatively few adult actors rapidly fade from memory). There’s a bear in the woods (no jokes, please!), an arranged dog-napping and a nifty sequence of the stealing of a hamburger and some lemonade from a fast food joint. But, for me, the story cried out for more complex characterisation and a sense of place.

So, when one lad stated, “Don’t you wish you were somewhere else?” guilt overcame me. I couldn’t help but agree.

Let's face it, coming-of-age dramas will inevitably be compared with Linklater's Boyhood and almost inevitably be found wanting. Certainly that's the case here.

Nice sophomore filmmaking try, Mr Carbone, but no cigar.

Alan Frank

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Matchbox Films. Colour.
80 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 31 Jul 2014