Hard Paint review – sex, lies and webcams in Brazil’s underworld | Film

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An oppressive sort of claustrophobic loneliness is what you’re left with at the end of this atmospherically photographed, fervently acted but ultimately unsatisfying movie set in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre. It enfolds you in its own world effectively enough but it listlessly problematises sex and leaves untied an important plot strand.

Pedro (Shico Menegat) is a young gay guy awaiting a plea hearing for an assault charge after he hit back at a bully; he could get a suspended sentence or serious jail time, depending on the attitude he shows the judge. His only real friend is his sister, Luiza (Guega Peixoto), who is moving away from the city. So out of pure isolation, Pedro sets up a live webcam stream showing him dancing naked, smeared with fluorescent paint, for paying online customers. Then he discovers another dancer, Leo (Bruno Fernandes) is doing the same thing, having apparently ripped off Pedro’s act – and resolves to confront him.

Under other circumstances that might make the basis for a lively drama, or indeed a comedy. Neither exactly is offered here. Pedro and Leo agree to be friends, doing a webcam double act – and then more than friends – but Leo is a serious dancer and like Luiza he wants to leave Porto Alegre. Poor, wretched Pedro finds himself drifting back alone into a world of violence.

Luiza had made Pedro promise to spend at least five minutes outdoors every day and I wish the film itself had spent more time outdoors, more time ventilating its characters’ emotions and giving perspective on them. (It’s refreshing when we get a panoramic shot of the city and its sand embankments.)

And what about that court hearing, that desperately important and worrying event that would surely dominate Pedro’s thoughts? Is he going to prison or not? Exasperatingly, the film appears to suggest that this is of marginal importance. But it is lifted by a good performance from Menegat.

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Source: The Guardian
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