Sao Paulo gangster Hiroito de Moraes Joanides gets semi-glam treatment in Flavio Frederico’s slick yet conventional biopic “Boca,” adapted from the ruthless thug’s 1977 autobiography. While unquestionably handsome (it won the Rio fest’s lensing prize), pic is also superficial and dully constructed, presenting its subject as a kind of “Legs” Diamond without countering the hoodlum’s view of himself as a hipster and babe magnet. Home play may pull in decent returns, but offshore chances are slim.
From an early age, Hiroito (Daniel de Oliveira, far better in “Cazuza”) frequents brothels (did he really read Baudelaire in whorehouses?), quickly making the leap from client to pimp. By the mid-1950s, he’s a small-time criminal and parricide, kingpin of the Boca do Lixo section of Sao Paulo. A slo-mo sequence rather obviously conveys his attraction to streetwalker Alaide (Hermila Guedes), and the two get hitched, though by the early 1960s, she’s tired of his philandering and drug addiction. The guy’s brutality isn’t ignored, but Frederico (“Urbania”) spotlights everything in a golden glow that minimizes the character’s psycho nature in favor of a cool-dude vibe. Period detail is carefully constructed down to the credits.