Hidden Kisses ****
Starring: Bèrenger Anceaux, Jules Houplain, Patrick Timsit, Barbara Schulz, Bruno Putzulu, Catherine Jacob Director: Didier Bivel Country: France What begins as a seemingly sweet gay coming-of-age drama turns quickly sour in this commentary on homophobia in rural France. Nathan (Anceaux) is the new kid at school. At a party he is photographed kissing a boy, whose identity is concealed. When the photo appears online, the school reacts violently to his sexuality. Subjected to beatings and unprotected by staff, he is forced to find his own way, especially because the boy he kissed (Houplain) wants nothing to do with him. With the parents and teachers played by a host of famous French actors, this is a film about the culture around the boys, rather than just the boys themselves. Catherine Jacob’s closeted lesbian maths teacher makes for a compelling subplot as she wrestles with her conscience about setting a good example for her students, while Bruno Putzulu is recognisably vile as the overbearing parent who is forcing his son to box in an attempt to beat the gay out of him. At times it does wander into clichéd territory in its plotting, but the story hits all the right emotive notes to help overlook that. Though sweet and charming at times, this is a story that packs a punch and reminds that even now not all young people are having a smooth ride coming out at school. Originally made for TV, it’s digital release now means a much wider international audience will get to see this affecting drama. OUT NOW ON DEMAND AND DVD, RELEASED BY MATCHBOX FILMS.