Grade: A+

Directed by Daniel Patrick Carbone
Starring Ryan Jones, Nathan Varnson

Sometimes a movie comes along and you can't quite explain just how you feel about it. It's a personal experience. Such is the case with Daniel Patrick Carbone's Hide Your Smiling Faces. Similar in style to other introspective directors like Terrence Malick, Carbone's subtle slice-of-life picture of suburban adolescence is at one moment nostalgic and the next terrifying.

Ryan Jones and Nathan Varnson star as brothers Tommy and Eric, normal kids who spend their summer days running through their once-blossoming town finding things to keep them occupied. Tommy, the youngest, looks up to his brother. Eric, in his mid-teens, struggles with normal teenage ideals. When one of Tommy's friends dies in a tragic way, the innocence of youth is shred for emotions far greater than either have ever handled. Through Carbone's lens, every aspect of adolescent joys and struggles are perfectly balanced and shown throughout the arc of their story. Friendship. Acceptance. Anger. Immortality. Death. As the boys continue to live their carefree summer lives, the pains of reality hide just beyond the fray.

Hide Your Smiling Faces isn't a complete downer of a movie, despite its heavy material. In fact, it's kind of refreshing. It takes you back to the days when even the worst of circumstances were easily forgotten with a quick visit to the local burger joint or a bike ride or exploring the woods or catching rain in your mouth. It was the days where you were allowed to have an imagination. At the same time, it's those moments of true loneliness and emotional conviction and vulnerability that make everything seem unbearable that also define what it is to grow up. As the brothers, Jones and Varnson are completely engrossing. Like Malick does with film like The Tree of Life, Carbone has created a vision so realistic that it hits the core of its message so much stronger. We go through life so quietly sometimes and it's in those moments when we feel the most genuine.

There are ticks here and there when the story felt a little dragged, but the end always justified the means. Life is about sitting and waiting sometimes. The true fluidity in which the brothers' highs and lows are shown is what really sells this film. Watching this brought to mind other slow-moving, honest portrayals of human life like Elephant. The honesty of the picture, despite its monotonous tone, is what effects the viewer. And that's what movies are all about, right?

Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 81 minutes

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