Hide Your Smiling Faces – reviews of 'lyrical' debut

Aug 1, 2014

Daniel Patrick Carbone's first feature is a haunting tale of childhood's end with superb child actors

Hide Your Smiling Faces
What you need to know

American coming-of-age drama Hide Your Smiling Faces opens in UK cinemas today. This partly Kickstarter-funded film is a feature debut for director Daniel Patrick Carbone.

Set in semi-rural New Jersey, the story focuses on two young brothers, Tommy (Ryan Jones) and Eric (Nathan Varnson). After their friend dies in mysterious circumstances, the brothers are forced to face their changing relationships and anxieties about life and death.

What the critics like

Making evocative use of bucolic dystopia, "this intimate, unsettling saga" poignantly captures the ingenuous anxiety of two adolescent brothers, says Patrick Peters in Empire. Paced with steady assurance, this gentle bildungsroman is an impressive debut from director Daniel Patrick Carbone.

This "lyrical and low-key reflection on sudden mortality and childhood's end" evokes traces of classic coming-of-age dramas such as Stand by Me and River's Edge, says Steve Dollar in the Wall Street Journal. Carbone favours atmosphere and interior life over obvious plot turns, and the cinematography turns the landscape into one Terrence Malick could admire.

Carbone's "hushed but assured debut" has elegance and insight, says Guy Lodge in Variety. Narratively oblique yet emotionally acute, this richly lensed mood piece features superb performances by its two young, refreshingly unaffected leads.

What they don't like

There are few negative comments about this film, but Tom Birchenough on Arts Desk admits "atmosphere and nuance are far stronger than narrative or dialogue" in Carbone's enigmatic debut. Carbone makes his viewers work, adds Birchenough, but rewards us by making us feel we have assembled the truth, or rather a part of a truth, behind this spare, elliptical story.

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