Student Critics' Reviews: Hide & Seek

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This year, the Student Critics Jury at Edinburgh International Film Festival made their picks of the Fest. We're publishing their reviews of what they judged to be the best films of the year at the 68th Edinburgh International Film Festival. Here is Helen Aitken's review of the Michael Powel Award-winning Hide and Seek.

Joanna Coates’ Hide and Seek is an extraordinary film, the like of which is only rarely seen. Semi-improvised, it tells the story of a group of four young people who choose to retire from society and live communally, sharing everything from sexual partners to cooking duties. All this is depicted frankly and openly, along with beautiful, yet sometimes surreal scenes of the characters playing together to entertain one another. And, unusually for a film dealing with this subject, it rejects cynicism in a way that is touchingly heartfelt.

This is a film that makes great promises of liberation and acceptance of alternative ways to live, though it sometimes shies away from following through on these promises. In particular, its depiction of sexuality is unexpectedly heteronormative, despite frequent hints that the group aims to transcend exactly that social attitude. Instead of allowing the characters to be openly comfortable with their own heterosexuality the film flirts half-heartedly with depictions of homosexuality, which feels jarringly hypocritical in this context. 

Another aspect of the film that can be troubling is its use of child-like imagery, because this is often combined with graphic sexual images. However, it is maybe best to read this as an affirmation that bringing a child-like approach to the world and a lack of inhibition to adult relationships is both possible and desirable.

Perhaps then this film is like the relationships it depicts; imperfect. But far worse results have been achieved through more conventional approaches.

– Helen Aitken

Read more about the Student Critics Jury here.

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The Student Critics Jury is a group of bright young student film critics mentored at Edinburgh International Film Festival.

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