Roy Tunt (Alex MacQueen), an obsessive-compulsive birder with but one species left, the elusive sociable plover, before he will have twitched the entire British List. As director Marek Losey's fantastic The Hide
opens, we find this quirky loner hunkered down on the windswept Suffolk mudflats going through his normal, meticulous routine and conversing with a photo of his estranged wife when Dave John (Phil Campbell) stumbles into his hide amidst an outside raging storm and on the run from the police.
Written by Tim Whitnall based upon his own stage play, The Hide
is an excellent example of that rather rare sub-genre of cinema that takes a small group of people and places them in the most isolated and claustrophobic of confines where all their social, personal, physical and psychological issues will be worked out - or else.
Roy and Dave work their way through wary introductions before seemingly buddying up over chicken-paste sandwiches and conversations about masculinity, power tools and their own fears and insecurities. The story that unfolds is deceptive, however, as The Hide
is as much a psychological thriller as it is a crime thriller. The film wears a sense of doom, yet Losey wisely never spills the beans or reveals too much. It's never quite clear exactly where this is all going or exactly what's unfolding, but there's this overwhelmingly ominous feeling that accompanies even the film's lighter moments.
There are lighter moments here, as well. In fact, there's this underlying pitch dark humor in the fragile relationship with these two men as they weave their way through this uneasy existence.
Both actors serve up incredible performances here that will leave you contemplating their words and actions long after you've watched the film. Alex MacQueen magnificently sells the character of Roy Tunt, a seemingly nerdish loner with an edge. As you're sitting there watching Tunt, it's impossible to not get the feeling that there's something strange and eerie going on here. Roy seems harmless, the sort of chap who's just a bit too off to establish anything resembling friendship but not the sort of fellow you'd actually hate being around.
Whitnall's remarkably insightful script also delves inside the British class system and its stereotypes. Roy is portrayed as a rather cheery middle-class Brit who exhibits subtle hints of racial and class tension when confined with Dave, a working class Northerner. While the two find areas with which they are able to bond, it seems almost inevitable that the tension will increase as time goes by even without the truths soon to be revealed.
Phil Campbell gives an extraordinary performance running opposite that of MacQueen's quieter, more simmering turn. While MacQueen's performance likely gives The Hide
its energy, Campbell gives the film its energy and spark. Together, the two are simply extraordinary.
D.P. George Richmond's lensing is exceptional, while Debbie Wiseman's original music serves as the perfect companion for the film. Nick Palmer's production design is moody, atmospheric and haunting. In short, it's a top notch production all the way around.
arrives on home video on September 6th with Vicious Circle FIlms, the edgier distribution arm for Breaking Glass Pictures. For more information on the film, visit its Breaking Glass Pictures website
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic