Boca/ Boca do Lixo (Flavio Frederico, Brasil, 2010)

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boca

An interesting and handsome film on the rise and fall of a Brazilian gangster, Boca is based on the autobiography of Hirohito, the ‘King of Boca do Lixo’. It’s exciting to watch, with a sexy period setting — the brothels and nightclubs of 1950’s Sao Paulo —  and a charismatic central performance from Daniel de Oliveira as Hirohito. The director, Flavio Frederico, keeps things moving but the film doesn’t offer much more insight or poetry than most films on the rise-and-fall-of-a-gangster genre and much less than the classics of the genre such as Scarface (either version) or The Roaring Twenties. The central character, Hirohito, is under-explained; it’s not clear why he embarks on a life of crime except that he’s liked women from a young age and has a complicated relationship with his father. I also don’t understand the rivalry between the gangs, the relationship with the police or his relationship with his underlings. Or rather, I think I do get what the film is saying but I want a fuller explanation and a more intricate and fuller understanding of those relationships than the film is giving. It’s nonetheless a pleasure to watch: Daniel de Oliveira is photographed so as to look between brutish and on the cusp of beautiful and the film shows him acting as if he’s constantly on the boil and ready to explode with unexpected violence, and in shots and within a design scheme that stay in the mind.

José Arroyo

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