The Brazilian drama Hard Paint is set in Porto Alegre and tells the story of a taciturn young man with no mother, father, or friends, who lives apart from the real world, completely immersed in a gay-oriented chatroom on the Internet. The traumatized, anti-social character, Pedro, is terrifically played by the newcomer Shico Menegat, who makes a remarkably assured debut under the guidance of directors Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon (Seashore, 2015).
The title comes from the fact that Pedro, who was expelled from school because of violent behavior, uses neon paint to cover his body during performances in front of a webcam. Under the name NeonBoy, he keeps waiting for monetary gifts from his devoted fans and voyeurs. However, his audience is being stolen by Leo (Bruno Fernandes), an extroverted college student who, using the identity Boy25, employs the same performing techniques. The two of them end up falling in love after meeting up and performing together, but Pedro has a difficult personality, heavily marked by long-term bullying, isolation, and abandonment. While learning with his own mistakes, he becomes more and more depressed, especially when he realizes that his supportive journalist sister, Luiza (Guega Peixoto), is moving to a new job in Salvador, a city located on the other side of the country. Moreover, there’s a chance that Leo might get a scholarship to study in Germany.
“…a taciturn young man with no mother, father, or friends, who lives apart from the real world…”
Pedro seems unable to get out of the darkness that enshrouds his life and starts panicking when both uncertainty and adversity knock on his door, making his personal little world to fall apart. The absorbing final section shows a somber, desolate, and disoriented person exposing himself to dangers and seeking consolation in his grandmother (Sandra Dani).
The writers/directors adopt a simmering, low-key approach delineated with a mix of tension and languidness that works incredibly well, and the film grows emotionally as it should. The story, evenly complex and meaningful, reflects honesty in all its magnitude and was handled with attention and gravitas.