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Hide and Seek review – devastating, dazzling study of Italian street crime | Movies

In the winding streets of Naples’s notorious Spanish quarter, haunted by gang violence, a cycle of incarceration grinds on. Entoni, a mischievous, charismatic force of nature who likes to get into trouble, exasperates his grandmother Dora and mother Natalia. Victoria Fiore’s shattering documentary observes him over four years as he grows, witnessing how his adolescent rebellion results in a forced stay at a reform facility and later youth prison.

Instead of the realist style often employed in social-issue documentaries, Fiore lends a dose of poetry to the depiction of Entoni’s everyday life. The pleasures of a summer swim, or aimlessly hanging out with a best friend, are beautifully conjured. The fleetingness of these experiences becomes heartbreaking when, charged with setting fire to a car, Entoni is sent to a home for troubled children as the government cracks down on crime.

This turn of events shows up the state’s inability to provide meaningful support for underprivileged youth: not only has his grandmother been in and out of prison but his father is also in jail. The act of criminalising Entoni’s behaviour only entrenches the lack of social mobility.

Drawing a parallel with the opening scene, in which Entoni and other neighbourhood kids build a pile of Christmas trees and set them on fire, Hide and Seek ends with his little brother Gaetano joining in the unruly tradition; Gaetano will soon have an open police file while Entoni remains in jail due to his escape attempts. Hide and Seek’s penchant for occasional re-enactment is somewhat trying, but the depiction of intergenerational trauma as a symptom of governmental failures is particularly noteworthy.

​​ Hide and Seek is released on 20 January at DocHouse, London.

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Photo by Xu Haiwei on Unsplash