Based on the autobiography of notorious Brazilian gangster Hiroito, ‘Boca’ stars Daniel de Oliveira (who incidentally did the Brazilian voiceover for ‘Happy Feet Two’).
Known as the “King of Boca do Lixo”, Hiroito rose to power in the São Paulo suburb at an early age. A haven of drugs, prostitutes and debauchery, he established a brothel and traffics drugs to the locals.
The decadence and contrasting squalor of 1960s Brazil is captured here in sumptuous detail. The soundtrack also adds additional South American flavour.
Mostly solemn, Hiroito conducts business with a fierce stare behind his thick rimmed glasses. His indifference for life, be it human or otherwise, is demonstrated when he calmly shoots a man in a pool hall and then methodically drowns ants on a windowsill. That’s not to say the man is entirely without charm, as a girl agrees to marry him shortly after meeting.
As Hiroito’s notoriety grows, he garners the attention of the local police and gangs. He also falls deeper into trouble with drug use, the primary source of his income.
It is implied that he may have been responsible for the murder of his father, a suspicion that was historically never proven. Either way, this event serves as a turning point that spirals into violence. One of the interesting characteristics of true stories is that they don’t neatly conclude every plot thread. The chaos and unpredictability of life sustains interest in the narrative, as we follow Hiroito's destructive ourney.
While not physically imposing, Daniel de Oliveira brings a psychological intensity to the lead role. Perhaps Brazil’s answer to ‘Scarface’, ‘Boca’ serves up a decent tale of crime and corruption. It does however tread in quite familiar, but still enjoyable, gangster territory.
For the Portuguese impaired, or those that don’t fancy reading the English subtitles, they have kindly included a dubbed audio track. Unfortunately for most, this is in French. Additional extras include an interesting feature commentary with director Flavio Frederico, a stills montage (which can also be achieved by simply pausing the film) and a trailer.
Review by: Mark O'Connell
Date: 11th February 2012
Rating out of 5: