Nine-year-old Tommy and his 14-year-old brother Eric are two typical adolescent brothers living in rural America. It's summer, so the brothers spend most of their time playing in the woods and rough-housing with other boys from the neighborhood. When a tragedy takes the life of Ian, one of Tommy's close friends, Eric and Tommy are forced to see their own mortality, questioning their place in the world around them. Daniel Patrick Carbone's Hide Your Smiling Faces is not your typical coming of age story, being a much more meditative and unique portrait of adolescence. This is a film shrouded in atmosphere, using the rural setting to craft this meditative study on mortality. The film is slowly-paced, but I'd argue this is merely part of the plan, capturing the stifling stillness of life in a small rural town. Hide Your Smiling Faces never breaks its point-of-view, offering up two conflicted young boys who attempt to decipher complex and tragic circumstances. Both central performances in the film are impressive, especially considering they are child actors, but Nathan Varnson's portrayal of older brother Eric, is what really stands out. Nathan Vamson delivers a dynamic and troubled performance that emphatically displays a young man whose grief leads to anger. While the slow-pacing of Hide Your Smiling Faces is sure to alienate some viewers, this is a very impressive debut feature which explores the soul of youth.
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