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The Independent Critic

Ryan Jones, Nathan Varnson, Colm O’Leary, Thomas Cruz, Christina Starbuck, Chris Kies, Andrew M. Chamberlain, Clark Middleton, Ivan Tomic
Daniel Patrick Carbone
81 Mins.
Tribeca Film

 "Hide Your Smiling Faces" Plays 2013 Heartland Film Festival 

Headed for a limited nationwide release starting March 25th after a successful festival run that included the Tribeca Film Festival and Indy's own Heartland Film Festival, Daniel Patrick Carbone's minimalist drama Hide Your Smiling Faces is a beautiful and moving exploration of life and death in rural America viewed through the distorted lens of youth.

The film deservedly captured the Heartland Film Festival's Grand Prize for Narrative Feature with its story of two brothers coming of age through the mysterious of a friend's death. Once familiar surroundings and experiences suddenly take on a macabre tone and the two brothers find themselves retreating into the wild. The film, which was also named Best Undistributed Film by the National Society of Film Critics in 2013, isn't so much a deeply moving film as it is an immensely immersive one. The two brothers, Eric (Nathan Varnson) and Tommy (Ryan Jones), are brought vividly and naturally to life by both Varnson and Jones. Varnson, in particular, has a compelling screen quality even in the stillness that leaves you mesmerized but, admittedly, it is difficult to imagine his performance here without the companionship of Jones.

Carbone, while maintaining a minimalist tone throughout, also builds the action believably and unforgettably. There's an undeniable tension between these two boys, but Carbone doesn't allow that tension to be manipulated but, instead, to be naturally progressed. For those who have deep and meaningful experiences with bereavement, it is difficult to fathom that this film won't be an absolutely remarkable view.

D.P. Nick Bentgen's lensing is nothing short of extraordinary in capturing the film that was actually shot in New Jersey. Robert Donne's original music complements the film to perfection, while Carbone's own dialogue is sparse yet insightfully chosen.

Hide Your Smiling Faces is on a certain level everything you hope to find when you sit yourself down in an auditorium at a film festival ready to see something that Hollywood tends to hide away. Thankfully, Tribeca Films is not hiding this film away and its lyrical beauty and relational intimacy work together to make this a deserving winner of Heartland's grand prize and a film incredibly worthy of its upcoming theatrical release.

© Written by Richard Propes 
The Independent Critic