Coming of age movies are seeing a revival in cinema this year. Critically lauded Boyhood has been the sensation of 2014, and even smaller releases such as I Declare War have been edging their way in to cinemas; but now for something a little different. Hide Your Smiling Faces is a coming of age movie for sure, though steers well clear of the dreamy adolescent experiences of awkward boys, and dives right at the loss of innocence angle with gut-wrenching honesty. Tommy (Ryan Jones) and Eric (Nathan Varson) lose a friend in a tragic accident (is it?). Having seen his lifeless body, the boys go on a journey of self-discovery as they try to cope with the trauma of what they have witnessed.

The death of the young boys shocks the community, but the effect that it has on brothers Tommy and Eric is by far the most apparent. Far from just the understandable acting out, it has a profound effect on their perception of death. All of a sudden, death is so easy, it’s no longer abstract. The boys enjoy teasing death, taking risks and being aggressive. The father of the boy who has died is undesirable to say the least, but the interaction that the brothers have with him is fascinating to watch. A grown man, with maturity and knowledge, swamped in unfathomable guilt and grief, is no more or less adept at coping with his feelings than they are.

A solid debut from director Daniel Patrick Carbone, Hide Your Smiling Faces is a film where mortality itself is the central character. It seeps through in to casual conversation between the young boys, the immaturity of youth merely pondering something they can’t quite understand, but then how can it make sense when death occurs in someone so young? The smatterings of vast, rich landscapes often drenched in rain that puncture the piece, serve as a striking reminder to the insignificance of humans. A cinematographer as well as director, Carbone’s love of spectacular imagery is apparent. Grains of dirt, creatures, the sky, it’s as much a part of the film as the actors, he’s filming life in every sense.

The film can drag at times, not through any lack of directorial ability, but because Carbone chooses to draw out scenes to include banal, every day images; a sink in a bathroom or a person choosing their groceries; these banal things, after all, are what make up part of the fabric of our everyday existence. This doesn’t always play out correctly, and there is sometimes an air of pretension to some of the scenes. It’s also slow to start, but once the film begins to pull away from the familiar clichés of the genre, it’s a delight to watch.

Hide Your Smiling Faces attempts, and for the majority of the time, succeeds in to reaching in to the darker side of the coming of age structure and try something new. A brilliant effort.