Four young people (two men and two women) head off to a house in the countryside to life an idyllic life, hoping to keep themselves away from the outside world and to create their own little utopia. There’s a rota for activities, including who gets to spend a night together in the main bedroom, which then has the door locked from the outside. The days are spent lazing around, the evenings feature a main event put on by someone (again, the rota gives everyone a turn) and all seems good. Can it stay that way?
Directed by Joanna Coates, who also co-wrote the movie with Daniel Metz (one of the stars), Hide And Seek is a movie that I started off by hating, continued to hate for a while, and then was almost won around by as it all came to an end. Almost. Unfortunately, too much of the film is unnecessary and gratuitous, in terms of both content seemingly designed to shock and also moments built around performance pieces.
Josh O’Connor and Daniel Metz are hard to differentiate in the main roles, but both do okay. Rea Mole is fine as Leah, while Hannah Arterton benefits from having the most interesting character, Charlotte. Charlotte is, at times, the most child-like of the group, and also the one who may make or break the dynamic due to her feelings for an ex-boyfriend (Simon, played by Joe Banks).
Coates and Metz seem to have created something specifically for actors to be all actorly in, which might be fun for them but proves less satisfying for the viewers. The main device, the entertainment put on every evening, allows for a variety of skits, all feeling exactly as they are; theatrical, self-reflexive and clumsily contrived to show the psychology of the various characters.
The shooting style is ethereal, for the most part, but that disappears when, for example, things suddenly cut to a graphic shot of a man masturbating while alone in a bedroom. There’s no build up to that moment, and no repercussions from it, which leaves it just there as, once more, something specifically for the actors rather than the audience.
It admirably veers away from a predictable, and overdone, finale, and that’s why I was almost won round, but I guess the previous two paragraphs highlight my main bone of contention with this movie. It’s designed for the cast, who don’t do a bad job, with very little thought seemingly given to anyone actually watching the thing. That’s fine, you might say. Artists create art for themselves, not for mass audiences. Very true, I guess. Although I can still only judge any piece of art by how I engage with it. And Hide And Seek didn’t really engage me.
DIRECTOR: JOANNA COATES
WRITER: DANIEL METZ, JOANNA COATES
STARS: JOSH O’CONNOR, HANNAH ARTERTON, REA MOLE, DANIEL METZ, JOE BANKS
RUNTIME: 82 MINS APPROX