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Hard Paint
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Hard Paint

Themes of abandonment, loneliness and yearning wash through Hard Paint, a hypnotically intimate character study examining a damaged young gay man’s double life as an online sex performer. Brazilian writer-director duo Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon follow their atmospheric Postcards from London but dramatically underpowered 2015 first feature, Seashore, with this equally unhurried but far more emotionally urgent mood piece, acted with naturalness and sensitivity by compelling screen newcomers. The mix of sexual explicitness and incisive social context with melancholy sensuality should put this distinctive work on the radar of queer film specialists beyond the festival circuit.

Set in the co-directors’ hometown of Porto Alegre, Brazil’s southernmost capital, the movie at times recalls Moonlight, not just structurally, in its separately titled three-part breakdown, but also in its moving observation of a vulnerable gay male protagonist in an unaccommodating environment, who is less fragile than he initially appears. However, those similarities are more than likely unintended, as the voice here is very much the filmmakers’ own.

The arresting opening image is a grainy, low-light widescreen frame of Pedro (Shico Menegat), who has fallen asleep naked in front of his webcam while chatroom comments from unseen observers ping on his laptop. Right away, the judgmental gaze — desirous or invasive, concerned, indifferent or contemptuous — is established as an underlying motif. It’s repeated in the silhouetted people looking down out of apartment windows or the nervous glances — sometimes hostile, sometimes ambiguous — directed at Pedro on the street. With his willowy body and mop of unruly curls, he’s an androgynous-looking presence, his otherness viewed as an affront.

Duration: 118 min


IMDb: 7.3

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