This relatively short feature film sees the beginnings of Daniel Patrick Carbone’s directorial career and it is an encouraging start. Focusing on two young brothers, this drama looks at the effect of a fatal tragedy on the young minds of Tommy and Eric. With his very naturalistic and contemporary approach, Carbone constructs quite an intelligent piece of filmmaking that begins to explore some compelling issues but pulls back just before something quite special manifests.
The film brims with prestigious cinematography and it is far from a surprise that Carbone originated as a director of photography. The camera is consistently used to full effect and lingers in a wonderingly static manner, hovering over landscapes that are admirably cinematic and oddly poignant. The khaki palette is overwhelming and it is this rural display that skilfully sets nature parallel to the personal struggles of Tommy and Eric. They seek refuge in the outdoors and the forest-like setting is an extended metaphor of their characterial development.
The screenplay is also courteous of Carbone but is rather vacant; at times to effect and at other times making the text appear absent and hollow. Likewise, the sound is extremely minimal and the limited score is echoey, tame and soothing; quite the disparity of some of the jerky and sudden extreme scenes in the film. Sometimes the techniques work in a roundabout way, but sometimes it leaves you feeling quite empty.
As well as cleverly inspecting the fragility of childhood and the difficulty that defines the rite of passage period, Hide Your Smiling Faces also wrestles with the theme of suicide and looks at the innate animalistic nature of humankind through captivating imagery. As well as this, the film quite often takes established childish remarks and places them in a questioning, philosophical sphere. Thus, it tries its best to do a lot, tantalisingly playing with raw concepts, but never quite reaching its climactic destination. The film is a fidget, but it’s possibly the best fidgeting you’ll endure for a long time.
Hide Your Smiling Faces (2013), directed by Daniel Patrick Carbone is released in UK cinemas by Matchbox Films, Certificate 15. Watch the trailer below: