Hidden Away, written and directed by Mikel Rueda, is a beautiful story of two teenage boys who meet at a party and slowly develop a relationship against all odds. Rafa (Germán Alcarazu) and Ibra (Adil Koukouh) exchange a stare through the bathroom mirror of an underage club one night that stays with them. When the two have a chance meeting at school water polo game, Rafa chases Ibra down to apologise for the behaviour of his friends who had started fights at the club and the game.
Ibra, a Moroccan immigrant, is an outcast in society with no real friends and no family, living in a state of uncertainty about his life in Spain with threats of being sent back to Morocco immanent. Rafa has a good group of friends who spend a lot time getting high and talking about getting with girls. All of which seem to make Rafa a little uncomfortable. Their racially fuelled slurs and homophobic comments about Rafa and Ibra’s new friendship only strengthen Rafa’s feelings of disenchantment towards his friends.
Hidden Away really is everything you’d hope it would be. Alacrazu and Koukouh give brilliant performances as two teens that are discovering their sexuality and trying to make it through a difficult situation. There is no huge coming out moment, or big declarations of feelings, just two boys who really enjoy spending time together. They play and joke and get rough. Most of my favourite parts of the film are when they do completely childish things like pushing each other around on wheelie chairs or having a food fight. It actually feels like two young teenage boys falling in love.
The film really explores the difficult nature of coming to terms with your sexuality at a young age, with friends who don’t really understand, and not really knowing how to act around people. Rafa’s best friend, Guille (Joseba Ugalde) isn’t sure why Rafa is suddenly not interested in hanging out with their friends. He’s worried he’s angered Rafa because he won’t tell him what is going on. Rafa isolates himself from everyone in his life, focusing on what he does understand, his friendship with Ibra.
In a society filled with expectation and racial tensions, Rafa and Ibra navigate their way through friendship and love, only to be forced apart by things beyond their control. Hidden Away is charming and delightful with the dark undertone of reality seeping through every time something good happens. The film is engaging and at moments confusing, but so is Rafa and Ibra’s situation. As far as coming of age and coming out films go, this is one of the best I’ve seen. As teenagers there is so much pressure to conform to your peers ideas of how you should behave, or who you should like. Hidden Away manages encompass all of this and tell a beautiful and compelling story of two young boys discovering who they are and falling in love.