Daniel Patrick Carbone’s atmospheric, elliptical, and even dreamlike first feature announces a substantial new talent. Hide Your Smiling Faces focuses on a pair of brothers, 9-year-old Tommy (Ryan Jones) and 14-year-old Eric (Nathan Varnson), and their extended all-male social circle. Amid one of their leisurely afternoon idylls, Eric and close friend Tristan (Thomas Cruz) discover the dead body of one of Tommy’s pals. With the incomprehensible tragedy reverberating throughout the community, the unnerved brothers respond with searching conversation, conspicuous acts of violence, and a subsequent retreat from the comforts of home.
The richly naturalistic Hide Your Smiling Faces is perhaps most remarkable for its effortlessly vivid, plausibly real portrait of adolescent male life. Constantly engaging in impromptu wrestling matches, games of ‘mercy’ and empty threats of greater violence, the experiences that the writer-director brings to the screen are about as authentic as American indie cinema gets. Nearly as noteworthy is the almost complete absence of adolescent female actors; this is the rare story of male maturation that does not prominently include sex in the equation. The young male mind is otherwise occupied in Carbone’s truly thoughtful debut.
Denver Film Society
‘oblique yet emotionally acute ... a bold, melancholy statement’
‘Daniel Patrick Carbonne is a true discovery and a revelation’