Magazine article Screen International

'Hard Paint': BFI Flare Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Hard Paint': BFI Flare Review

Article excerpt

A gay Brazilian webcam performer struggles to make any real-world connections

Hard Paint

Dir. Marcio Reolon, Filipe Matzembacher. Brazil. 2018. 118mins

Infused with a sense of yearning and melancholy as vivid as the body paints daubed on the bodies of the boys who dance for money, Hard Paint represents a complex character study and a distinctive voice in queer cinema. The second feature from writer/director partnership Marcio Reolon and Filipe Matzembacher follows a teenager in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre who makes a living performing for strangers but struggles to make any real-world connections.

Glauco Firpo’s fluid cinematography captures the quasi-fairytale quality of a boy who lives on the outside of his life

Hard Paint arrives at London’s Flare festival having already won Berlin Film Festival’s Teddy prize and the Premio Maguey for Best Film at Guadalajara. Further festival interest seems likely, particularly, but not exclusively, in LGBTQ-themed events. Although atmospheric and visually arresting, film’s languid pace and a running time which is not quite sustained by the material could be the main barriers to wider distribution.

Pedro (Shico Menegat) dances in front of his webcam, anointing himself with paints which glow under the black light he has set up in his bedroom. For reasons which become clear, Pedro feels more comfortable with the protective barriers of the paint and the camera; his encounters in the real world are blundering and unpolished. But when his sister, the only certainty in his life, abruptly decides to move, Pedro must adjust to life on his own in a community which judges him, both for being different and for the one time he fought back against his bullies, severely injuring one of them.

With its chapter structure - the film is divided into three sections - and simmering threat of violence, Hard Paint could draw comparisons with Moonlight. Tonally, the film is washed in shades of blue. One senses that Pedro’s sadness runs far deeper than the malaise that comes from being targeted for his sexuality. …

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