The atmosphere grows dense with intimations of homosexual desire; pent-up rage is ready to explode with the slightest spark, and it does so with a blatantly theatrical flourish. The physical tumbles of lean bodies and the emotional fumblings of maturing souls take place in landscapes framed for postcards; the portentous drama, underlined and calculated details, could serve as a travel brochure.
Carbone's pensive style... is interested in revealing a world in flux, but his fixation on death is so incessant that it situates the film as a morose fetish object... And striking as it may be, Nicholas Bentgen's lensing of the film fails to engross because of its superficial resemblance to the work of Terrence Malick, Matt Porterfield, and David Gordon Green, filmmakers who, while often seized by the gloominess of human despair, are still able to capture worlds brimming with endless discovery.
Every sequence could be the prologue of a horror flick minus the spooky music and other overt signals of the genre... Potential is the crucial word here.Hide Your Smiling Faces is remarkable for the dread it keeps at a slow simmer from the first shot to the last.