Hard Paint

 

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Distinguished filmmaking in a work that has more to offer than gay appeal.

   
Hard Paint

 

We have here a film of quality from Brazil although the work that it reminded me of came from France, that being Théo and Hugo (2016). Both pieces focus on gay life and both offer superb performances from their two leading men. In Hard Paint, these roles are those of Pedro and Leo played by Shico Menegat and Bruno Fernandes respectively and the film, set in Porto Alegre, is presented in three parts, each named after one of the central figures.

 

Hard Paint is the work of Marcio Reolon and Filipe Matzembacher who share both the directing and writing credits. A short preface reveals that Pedro earns money by exploiting himself in webcam images in a chatroom where he displays his body covered in the brightest of fluorescent paint. When his followers talk to him he is ready to strip completely, all of which might suggest that he is an extrovert. However, ‘NeonBoy’ as he calls himself is a persona that flourishes only in this context and in his personal life - he lives with his sister Luiza (Guega Peixoto) - he is withdrawn and shies away from relationships. Luiza is very close to him and accepts his way of life, but she is on the point of leaving for Salvador to further her career as a journalist. In any case, not even the presence of friendly acquaintances can make him forget the bullying to which he responded violently so that he not only got kicked out of college but is facing a serious court hearing.

 

Leo comes into the story when Pedro seeks him out to protest over the fact that this young man styling himself ‘Boy25’ has in effect copied Pedro’s website act and is drawing callers away from him. Soon, however, these two link up and even perform together. However, despite this colourful emphasis on sexual display on the website, the real distinction of Hard Paint lies in the infinitely subtle portrayal of the growing friendship between these two. We see their initial hostility lead on to friendly sex, then to actual friendship and finally to something that borders on love. These positive developments contrast with the nature of daily life in Porto Alegre which, regardless of attitudes to homosexuality, emerges as a place with little opportunities available so that youngsters feel the need to get away. In consequence, there is an element of melancholy here first seen in Menegal’s expressive eyes and the difficulty of maintaining meaningful communication in an age of contact through technology is felt too.

 

The wider themes and the quality of the writing and acting make this a film which, like Théo and Hugo, has something to offer a non-gay audience. Yet both works embrace explicit scenes of gay sex which could deter that wider audience and that seems a pity. In the case of Hard Paint, there is also a sense that the filmmakers became insecure over finding the right ending and pacing it accordingly. Even so, this is a piece of serious cinema worthy of attention by audiences beyond those drawn by its niche appeal as a gay movie.

 

Original title: Tinta Bruta.

   

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Shico Menegat, Bruno Fernandes, Guega Peixoto, Sandra Dani, Denis Gosh, Frederico Vasques, Camila Falcão, Kaya Rodrigues, Áurea Baptista, Zé Adão Barbosa, Larissa Sanguiné.

 

Dir Marcio Reolon and Filipe Matzembacher, Pro Filipe Matzembacher, Jessica Luz and Marcio Reolon, Screenplay Marcio Reolon and Filipe Matzembacher, Ph Glauco Firpo, Pro Des Manuela Falcão, Ed Germano De Oliveira, Music  Felipe Puperi, Costumes Maíra Flores.

  
Avante Filmes/Besouro Films-Matchbox Films.
117 mins. Brazil. 2018. Rel: 2 August 2019. Cert. 18.