It’s the middle of summer, and brothers Eric and Tommy are trying to fill their time. They lurk around the woods with their friends, play-fight and commit minor crimes. But then one day the body of one of their friends is discovered and their world is turned upside down. The trivial becomes important. The warm, lazy days they took for granted seem to have lost their sense of innocent wonder and are now strange and full of mystery. They have become lost in their own youth, one could say.
There was a point while watching director and writer Daniel Carbone’s feature debut when I wondered if this was actually a rather empty film. Beautifully shot, of course, but curiously lacking in heart and soul. However, as the slow and ambiguous story moves towards a less-than certain ending I changed my mind and began to understand what Carbone is trying to do. There is a clear sense of innocence corrupted at the heart of the story, a theme amplified by a keen eye for the cruelty of the natural world that surrounds the characters. This is a beautiful film and one that challenges those who dismiss childhood and early teenage years as times that don’t matter, or simply a prelude to the destiny of adulthood.
Hide Your Smiling Faces (2013), directed by Daniel Patrick Gordon, is showing in the First Feature Competition series at the BFI London Film Festival this autumn. Click here for screening information.