Director: Joanna Coates
Cast: Hannah Arterton, Joe Banks, Daniel Metz, Rea Mole, Josh O’Connor
82min Drama US/UK
In the depths of an English summer, four loosely connected friends from London move into a remote country cottage with the aims of creating an environment free from social conventions including those of sexuality. Living in this intimate setting they hope to drift into a state of harmony where there are no boundaries and they will discover the missing element in their lives.
Joanna Coates first feature is an elegant and visually inventive art house affair. Evoking a suspenseful sense of intrigue from the opening, with an eclectic choice of music and her clever casting: a slightly neurotic Leah (Rea Mole), a relaxed and playful Charlotte (Hannah Arterton), ) an assured and assertive Max, (Josh O’Connor) and a placid American (Jack), Daniel Metz). This radical approach works well at the start especially as the foursome seem mutually attracted to one another. But it also feels slightly hopeful on the sexual front. That they are all going to casually sleep together on an ongoing basis seems naive and presumptuous. However, Joanna Coates’ well-paced drama makes this an enjoyable voyage of discovery, leaving us to guess how things will eventually work out with some spirit of faith. The characters are enigmatic yet plausible even though the physical side of their relationships gets considerably more exposure than the emotional and intellectual one. Although it often feels as if events and scenarios are being forced unnaturally by some outside party, somehow this works. The arrival of another male friend (Simon, Joe Banks) changes the dynamics abruptly. His inquisitive line of questioning and perceptive comments seems quite natural, in the scheme of things, and yet seem intrusive to the quiet cohesion of the existing group, which has reached a state of suspended nirvana.
But the psychological parlour games start to destabilise his equilibrium and when one of the girls attempts to force a fantasy scenario on him he makes a desperate attempt to inject a spirit of reality into the proceedings. Afterwards, it’s clear that the utopia has been challenged but also that an unwanted element of their former lives has been purged. A thought-provoking and engaging debut that explores the state of modern society, xenophobia, nuclear relationships the fear of loneliness. MT
Winner of the Michael Powell Award for Best British Film at the Edinburgh Film festival 2014, HIDE AND SEEK, opens in selected cinemas across the country on Friday July