Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Hide Your Smiling Faces

An atmospheric indie whose lack of narrative momentum is offset by its moody portrait of two young brothers navigating an alternately terrifying and beautiful rural southern landscape.

March 25, 2014

-By Nick Schager


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1397108-Hide_Your_Smiling_Faces_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

An auspicious debut that nonetheless feels like the rough-draft template for a future, superior work, Hide Your Smiling Faces is more pensive mood piece than compellingly coherent feature. Set in an unnamed, sleepy rural southern town, writer/director Daniel Patrick Carbone’s film focuses on Tommy (Ryan Jones) and his older brother, Eric (Nathan Varnson), who spend their summer roaming and biking around an area of deep, silent woodlands and rotting, dilapidated buildings. A score of unsettling tones and strange noises adds an extra layer of ominous unreality to their casual rides along empty streets and walks along a majestic bridge that used to support train tracks but has now been overrun with weedy grass. Their lazy days come across like dreams blending together, and it soon seems as if the boys are drifting hazily through time, with the filmmaker proving to be uninterested in traditional narrative constraints or concerns.

Eric and Tommy are introduced playfully sparring under an overpass as it rains outside, and that genial roughhousing soon gives way to more rugged hostility, be it the sight of Eric wrestling another boy while kids cheer them on—a ritual of aggression that Tommy will later attempt to duplicate—or a scene in which Eric and Tommy discover dead animals in the ruins of a crumbled forest house. Male violence comingles with decay and death in Hide Your Smiling Faces’ depiction of southern backwoods life, and that marriage becomes even more pronounced when Tommy’s friend Ian (Ivan Tomic)—shortly after getting into trouble with his overtly threatening father (Colm O’Leary) for horsing around with the man’s pistol—is found dead by Eric at the bottom of the bridge.

Rather than kick-starting a proper plot, Ian’s demise is merely a catalyst for Eric and Tommy’s reckoning with mortality—both their own, and that of their friends, especially once Eric’s partner-in-crime Tristan (Thomas Cruz) begins to threaten suicide over his ill-defined unhappiness. Eric shares that misery while Tommy is more curious than despondent over the ferociousness (and fragility) of their lives in this sheltered, rustic environment. As it makes its way toward a serious of showdowns that further underscore the terrifying vulnerability—and powerlessness—of youth, Hide Your Smiling Faces becomes drenched in an atmosphere of adolescent confusion and discontent, one made all the more powerful by Carbone and cinematographer Nicholas Bentgen’s sumptuous panoramas of tree-lined streets and skies filled with menacing clouds.

Carbone’s lack of interest in conventional storytelling renders the action somewhat sluggish and meandering, even as his snapshots of the boys down by a river or wandering through abandoned buildings—with dead animal carcasses often nearby—eventually coalesce into a haunting vision of immature kids trying to navigate a world that makes little sense to them, and in which they’re under constant (and frequently unknown) threats. At times a tad too oblique for its own good, Hide Your Smiling Faces nonetheless casts a potent spell, delivering a disquieting portrait of masculine rage and fear over lives perched on the precipice of an abyss.


Film Review: Hide Your Smiling Faces

An atmospheric indie whose lack of narrative momentum is offset by its moody portrait of two young brothers navigating an alternately terrifying and beautiful rural southern landscape.

March 25, 2014

-By Nick Schager


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1397108-Hide_Your_Smiling_Faces_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

An auspicious debut that nonetheless feels like the rough-draft template for a future, superior work, Hide Your Smiling Faces is more pensive mood piece than compellingly coherent feature. Set in an unnamed, sleepy rural southern town, writer/director Daniel Patrick Carbone’s film focuses on Tommy (Ryan Jones) and his older brother, Eric (Nathan Varnson), who spend their summer roaming and biking around an area of deep, silent woodlands and rotting, dilapidated buildings. A score of unsettling tones and strange noises adds an extra layer of ominous unreality to their casual rides along empty streets and walks along a majestic bridge that used to support train tracks but has now been overrun with weedy grass. Their lazy days come across like dreams blending together, and it soon seems as if the boys are drifting hazily through time, with the filmmaker proving to be uninterested in traditional narrative constraints or concerns.

Eric and Tommy are introduced playfully sparring under an overpass as it rains outside, and that genial roughhousing soon gives way to more rugged hostility, be it the sight of Eric wrestling another boy while kids cheer them on—a ritual of aggression that Tommy will later attempt to duplicate—or a scene in which Eric and Tommy discover dead animals in the ruins of a crumbled forest house. Male violence comingles with decay and death in Hide Your Smiling Faces’ depiction of southern backwoods life, and that marriage becomes even more pronounced when Tommy’s friend Ian (Ivan Tomic)—shortly after getting into trouble with his overtly threatening father (Colm O’Leary) for horsing around with the man’s pistol—is found dead by Eric at the bottom of the bridge.

Rather than kick-starting a proper plot, Ian’s demise is merely a catalyst for Eric and Tommy’s reckoning with mortality—both their own, and that of their friends, especially once Eric’s partner-in-crime Tristan (Thomas Cruz) begins to threaten suicide over his ill-defined unhappiness. Eric shares that misery while Tommy is more curious than despondent over the ferociousness (and fragility) of their lives in this sheltered, rustic environment. As it makes its way toward a serious of showdowns that further underscore the terrifying vulnerability—and powerlessness—of youth, Hide Your Smiling Faces becomes drenched in an atmosphere of adolescent confusion and discontent, one made all the more powerful by Carbone and cinematographer Nicholas Bentgen’s sumptuous panoramas of tree-lined streets and skies filled with menacing clouds.

Carbone’s lack of interest in conventional storytelling renders the action somewhat sluggish and meandering, even as his snapshots of the boys down by a river or wandering through abandoned buildings—with dead animal carcasses often nearby—eventually coalesce into a haunting vision of immature kids trying to navigate a world that makes little sense to them, and in which they’re under constant (and frequently unknown) threats. At times a tad too oblique for its own good, Hide Your Smiling Faces nonetheless casts a potent spell, delivering a disquieting portrait of masculine rage and fear over lives perched on the precipice of an abyss.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

K2: Siren of the Himalayas
Film Review: K2: Siren of the Himalayas

Mountaineering documentary follows an expedition to K2 in the Himalayas. More »

The Possession of Michael King
Film Review: The Possession of Michael King

All unhappy families may be unhappy in their own way, but movies about possession/exorcism tend to a numbing sameness. That said, The Possession of Michael King, yet another "found footage" frightener, whips up some creepy moments and features a strong performance by Shane Johnson as the atheist who makes the mistake of daring the Devil to prove he's not just another bogeyman. More »

Kink
Film Review: Kink

James Franco and regular collaborator Christina Voros teach you everything you always wanted to know about fetish porn (but were afraid to ask). More »

14 Blades
Film Review: 14 Blades

Uneven martial-arts tale benefits from its flashy retro style. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Film Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Neither significantly better nor worse than its predecessor, the belated Sin City sequel is more of a repeat, rather than a continuation, of the original. More »

If I Stay
Film Review: If I Stay

Delivers as promised. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here