James Brown was the Godfather of Soul, Many regard Iggy Pop the Godfather of Punk, Marlon Brando was the Godfather, in Brazil Hiroito Joanides De Moraes was the Godfather of Sao Paulo and BOCA is his story…Sort off.
Boca is based on the autobiography of the so-called main gangland boss of Sao Paulo’s notorious red light district Boca Do Lixo. This was the part of the city you wouldn’t want to get lost on not just at night but daytime as well unless you were looking for the city’s seediest nightclubs, strip joints, brothels, bars and places to get your drug fix. The film follows Hiroito (played by Daniel De Oliveira) through the turbulent decades of 1950’s & 1960’s from his early days sleeping around with prostitutes to rising from the small time crook to becoming a public enemy number one not just with the police but with the criminal underworld fraternity too.
I know at times when we talk about films with ‘similarities’ when reviewing so we can connect with the reader so possibly you may like what we’re talking about, in Boca is been regarded as The Brazilian Godfather you’ll be having a giraffe! This has all the makings of a potential classic crime flick, a small time thief attempting to rise through the ranks of Sao Paulo underworld and as he rises through the pile we never really learn about Hiroito and what we do was minimal. We already knew Hiroito liked the ladies and had since he was 12 then out of the blue we’re suddenly thrown right into his adulthood even bypassing the murder of his own father which gave him his first true encounter from Brazilian justice system which he is acquitted for after been prime suspect.A key to many films based on a person especially biopics you need to connect with the film’s protagonist so we can try to understand why they became that person, what they did to appreciate what we’re watching sadly in Boca we get a big sweet nothing.
Going back to the Godfather of Brazilian crime label, we all know The Godfather film is an iconic epic franchise that followed the Corleone Mafioso through generations of the family from the early days, the power, strengths, major events, a weakness we even learn about their enemies too. The films all were also epic in length all nearly 4 hours in length but as for Boca, we get a measly running time of 93 minutes which is nothing but an insult to your intelligence to be compared to The Godfather. The film has no depth no backstory to let us understand Horoito became who was outside his father’s murder there are no real major events to make the film really interesting we don’t even learn why he picked up a gun in the first place. Boca was a massive hit in native Brazil and we can see why as he never travelled outside his locality so that’s why he’s an unknown commodity.
On a positive note, Boca‘s visual style (even sound)is fantastic with the cinematography created intelligently crafted. Daniel De Oliveira performance as Horoito is one of the very few reasons to watch this but with not much of a story to work on his acting chops. Overall if your a fan of gangster flicks there’s enough going on to keep you interested in Boca however if your film flix you need to learn about the main character you will be severely disappointed due to the film’s lack of insight and substance.
Paul Devine | ★★
Action, Crime, Drama | Brazil, 2010 | 18 | 13th February 2012 (UK DVD) | Universal Pictures UK | Dir:Flavio Frederico |Daniel de Oliveira, Hermila Guedes, Jefferson Brasil