When I was young, one of the girls from my year at school died suddenly. She was the first person I knew who’d passed away and the realisation that we weren’t immortal shocked us all, though we were too young to really take it in. My memories of that time are jumbled up with all sorts of other snapshots of my childhood: racing my bike through the fields at the bottom of our road, making perfume from rose petals, watching from my bedroom window as dad buried another pet rabbit in the garden.
Director Daniel Patrick Carbone’s quietly wonderful first film, Hide Your Smiling Faces, is a look at what happens when death casts its first shadow on childhood. Brothers Tommy and Eric (Nathan Varnson and Ryan Jones) are spending summer hanging out with their friend Ian and getting into the sort of trouble boys get into when they’re at a loose end. Then, a tragedy. The boys watch from a distance as the adults deal with loss in different ways and the remaining weeks of summer are overshadowed by thoughts of mortality and a grief the boys aren’t mature enough to express.
There isn’t a lot of dialogue, and the slow pace might not suit everyone, but this is an exciting debut from Carbone, stunningly photographed and with some very naturalistic performances from the young actors. It captures the fractured memories of childhood perfectly – I found myself thinking about it for days afterwards.