A potentially gripping sociopolitical thriller is undercut and eventually overwhelmed by empty stylistic flourishes in “The Trespasser,” Brazilian helmer Beto Brant’s disappointing follow-up to his well-received “Belly Up” (1997) and “Friendly Fire” (1998). Elliptical storytelling style dissipates all suspense, and abrupt ironic-twist ending is neither dramatically persuasive nor emotionally satisfying. Pic copped Latin America Cinema jury prize at Sundance 2002, but it’s doubtful that “Trespasser” will move far beyond global fest circuit.
Based on a novel by Marcal Aquino, who co-wrote screenplay adaptation with Brant and Renato Ciasca, drama revolves around aftermath of a contract killing. Two Sao Paolo entrepreneurs (Marco Ricca, Alexandre Borges) opt to cover up their less-than-legal dealings by hiring a sleazy hit man (Paulo Miklos) to murder their squeaky-clean partner in a thriving construction business. Unfortunately, the hit man hangs around long after the hit. When he’s not busy intimidating the entrepreneurs and bullying his way into their business, he’s romancing his victim’s wild and beautiful daughter. Miklos — resembling a younger, sweatier and just plain creepier Harry Dean Stanton — grabs top acting honors by striking an effective balance between comic bluster and icy menace.