I’d never heard of this. But one of the true joys for a cinema lover is unearthing a gem, and then sharing your find with others. Brazilian crime flicks over the last ten years or so have not just been good, they’ve been sensational: CITY OF GOD and ELITE SQUAD: THE ENEMY WITHIN. I was hoping this was going to be hot sh*t! The trailer even has someone referencing Scorsese’s MEAN STREETS. What a douche! BOCA is about as far from the quality of that energetic landmark as a POWER RANGERS episode is as close to RAGING BULL. This is lazy, inept filmmaking on nearly every level.
We start off in Sao Paolo with the focus, Hiroito (Daniel de Oliveira) taking drugs in a locked car. We than jump back in time. Is that scene meant to signify something? Why should we care? There’s no context or explanation. What an undramatic opening. It’s now 1952 and we see the younger Hiroito visiting a prostitute with a voiceover telling us he spent all his spare money at that brothel. Then all of a sudden it’s 1957 – he’s grown up. So that’s our explanation for his character – paying for sex - an epitome of the movie: zero characterisation and personality, along with nonsensical motivations.
We watch Hiroito kill some people, decide to marry a prostitute, be accused of his father’s murder, do some shady stuff, run from the police, etc. All yawn inducing because we are given no real understanding of what’s going on, or why, or how. Where are the details, the nuances, the metaphors? The direction is banal – scenes, which should be filled with tension or bravado, just sit in front of us begging to be entertaining. Then there’s the trite dialogue, like, “The ends justify the means.” He reads a lot, where’s the result? I know making a period film must be costly, but so little is done to dress the sets. They all seem to be bland square rooms. Then there’s a voice over talking about what a crazy time he had over two months; depicted by slow-mo driving around in a car drinking. Wow. Crazy.
Being based on a true story hammers home the woefulness – surely there’s got to be a better narrative? A lumpen mess that continually finds itself in sub-SCARFACE territory. Dull, repetitive, and ends abruptly with no clear reason for that point to be the conclusion.