The flurry of powerful LGBT+ films over the past 24 months is about to get another notch with ‘Hard Paint’ - adding also to the list of rich foreign queer cinema. But as always, these films are flush with subtlety; complex layers of human beings and relationships that become so much more than just a queer film, as all good cinema should be.
Set in Brazil’s Porto Alegre, a town everyone seems desperate to escape, Pedro (newcomer Shico Menegat) is a young gay man whose only human contact comes from his sister whom he lives with, and the internet users who watch him perform under the guise of ‘Neon Boy’ on a sex cam site. A social introvert, Pedro comes alive as a performer, glowing under his black lights as he's heaped with praise and money from his mass of anonymous strangers and admirers. He soon learns that his sister is moving away and that another man on the site is copying his act. When he confronts Leo AKA Boy25 (fellow newcomer, Bruno Fernandes) to stop they instead collaborate, becoming very popular, and the pair soon spark up an off-camera relationship, introducing Pedro to new people and a life outside the confines of his apartment. But the chips continue to fall for Pedro once his sister leaves as it’s revealed Leo is a dancer on the precipice of a scholarship that will send him internationally, his bullies are still at large, a cryptic court case looms over Pedro’s head, and his crippling loneliness begins to take its toll.
This beautiful character study relishes the quiet moments. Pedro is not one for words and with little to no one to speak to, it’s just the striking pings of his laptop to know that there’s a new message and someone watching or the faceless, haunting silhouettes of his neighbours watching from their balconies and windows up above. Screenwriter/directors Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon (‘Seashore’ 2015) have done wonders to capture the isolation and loneness by keeping their pictures dark, ominous and vast yet isolated, magnified by Menegat’s quiet, fresh and beautiful performance.
This beautiful character study relishes the quiet moments.
This sad, deeply erotic yet ultimately hopeful tale is hard to shake once the credits start rolling, leaving audiences with a particularly exceptional and mesmerising final shot.