The story of teenage gays being bullied on campus is not uncommon, but Hidden Kisses (Didier Bivel, 2016) used a refreshing multi-angle perspective to narrate the story, starting from the end. This smooth rhythm makes you feel closer to every single character in the movie, making it a great work that is worth watching.
Nathan and his father Steven, a policeman, have just moved to a new place but, soon, Steven finds out a picture on Facebook from a hidden camera of Nathan kissing another boy at a school party. Steven, who had always been very close to his son, gradually distances himself from him, just because he does not understand his son’s sexual orientation. Nathan was teased and attacked at school. But he would not reveal who that blurry guy is in the picture. The guy he kissed denied everything about the kiss and the relationship between the two. Moreover, he started beating up Nathan with his other classmates. This makes Nathan very disheartened. This made Steven started to face his son’s situation.
This film carefully narrates the story starting from the end. The film takes off from the day Nathan goes to the party. After the reveal of the picture of Nathan secretly kissing another guy, the film jumps back to the party. The switches between Nathan and the photographer’s POV several times to unfold the truth. This makes this movie more attractive than other similar films. In addition to the structural composition, the film also adds the role of the gay teacher, as a strategic turning point, even mischievously misleading the audience a little bit.
One-third into the film, the other classmate’s name is revealed: Louie. Louie is from a well-off family. His father is homophobic, which makes Louie suppress himself. That is why he was very scared when the picture leaked on the internet. This made him lean closer to his girlfriend and, even, bully Nathan in order to hide the truth. When his mother is casually using his computer, she finds that Louie was browsing gay content on the Internet. Louie can only use more lies to cover up, but this made him began to reflect on the alienation and hostility of society towards Nathan.
The person who sneakily took the picture of the two of them was Louie’s girlfriend. She followed Louie around the party and when she saw the boys kissing, she took the picture and uploaded it to Facebook out of anger. But after Louie admits he was gay to his girlfriend, she regrets her actions and supports him. The lesbian teacher was also very scared to publicly come out of the closet. But after her friend’s advice and seeing Nathan being so brave to face his bullies, she decids to step up and come out of the closet and support Nathan too.
Steven’s masculine police character further highlights his willingness to accept and protect his gay son. Steven empathically talks to Louie’s father when he is on the way to pick up his son after he tried to commit suicide. Louie’s mother finally sees the distancing from her own son, and she also decides to keep a distance from her homophobic husband. These are all positive examples for the teenagers that are still in the closet.
Hidden Kisses aims to promote the importance of understanding, communication, and honesty among family members, friends and lovers. Although this film is not as sweet as other recent gay melodramas, but it still has the power to reach our heart.