Story By Tyler Klinkhammer
Joanna Coates’ directorial debut Hide and Seek is a beautiful, fresh and sometimes beguiling look at modern relationships, love and sex in a broader societal context.
When four acquaintances, Leah (Rea Mole), Charlotte (Hannah Arterton), Jack (Daniel Metz) and Max (Josh O’Connor) find themselves at an impasse in life they decide to leave behind their crumbling relationships and live more simply, away from the complications of their old lives. The foursome moves to the English countryside to form their own community in the form of a sex utopia. They find themselves in an old cottage that Leah has inherited from her parents. In the beginning, they struggle to set aside their own conventions and restraints, but find themselves quickly falling in love with each other. Isolated from the outside world, they find themselves free to explore their own desires and each other. As their love story unfolds, they are interrupted by one of their previous relationships, which lends a wonderful juxtaposition to the love they have found with each other, and the love they left behind.
Hide and Seek begins at a sluggish pace, but unravels into a compelling story, which is both inquisitive and compelling. The characters develop in to rich, fully realized people as the script meanders along. The characters seem odd and awkward to watch in the beginning, but the story progresses at a natural pace, and allows the characters to develop in a very organic way. There are no forced scenes, and the story doesn’t spoon feed anything to its audience. The characters don’t fully develop until well in to the film, which fits splendidly, considering the unusual situation they find themselves in.
Hide and Seek is shot in the beautiful countryside in Crasswall, England. The startling scenery is captured beautifully by Coates, as frame after beautiful frame of the rolling landscape and lush greenery unfolds as a veritable feast for the viewer. The fixed camera shots Coates uses throughout the film allow for the viewer to take in the artistry of the images, and for the actors to move freely and naturally throughout the frame. This film is filled with a great balance of stunning scenery, symbolic moments, and light-hearted scenes.
Beautifully acted, and wonderfully directed, Hide and Seek is a rewarding experience for the viewer. Make no mistake, the film starts slow, and settles in to a measured pace, so if you’re looking for an exciting, fast-paced thriller, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a questioning examination of human sexuality that might make you think twice about your own conceptions of sex and love, see this film.
Hide and Seek won the Michael Powell Award at the 2014 Edinburgh International Film Festival and is set to have its North American premier at the Calgary International Film Festival at the Eau Claire Market Cinema this Friday, Sept. 26, at 9:45 pm, and again Saturday Sept. 27, at 9:45 pm. Hide and Seek is competing for the CIFF Discovery Award, so if you enjoy this film be sure to vote.
Tyler Klinkhammer is a journalism student at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. Outside of his studies, Klinkhammer is fascinated by local and international culture, art and entertainment.