The arrival of a new student in school changes Leonardo's life. This 15 year-old blind teenager has to deal with the jealousy of his friend Giovana while figuring out the new feelings he's having towards his new friend, Gabriel.
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Leonardo is a blind teenager dealing with an overprotective mother while trying to live a more independent life. To the disappointment of his best friend, Giovana, he plans to go on an exchange program abroad. When Gabriel, a new student in town, arrives at their classroom, new feelings blossom in Leonardo making him question his plans.Written by
According to an interview with The Moveable Fest, Fabio Audi who plays Gabriel is the one who suggested to Daniel Ribeiro that his character needed to have a bike. The original short film does not include a bike, but Daniel Ribeiro took the suggestion and started writing about the bike. It eventually became a bigger thing. See more »
During the camping trip pool scene, the pool side chairs which Gabriel and Leo go to sit down on are a noticeable distance apart in the long shot. When the shot changes to a close up, they are right beside each other. See more »
A refreshing, breezy, subversive, overwhelming pick-me-up.
There's an obvious irony about Brazil's foreign language film submission The Way He Looks – the protagonist is blind. Naturally, the mission is to show that love isn't superficial, but it is a common theme very well handled by director/writer Daniel Ribeiro. This is familiar territory, exploring the turbulent teen years where alliances are in constant flux, but the film has key subversions of the formula that make it engrossing. Not only through the perspective of the blind, but a homosexual relationship that could hardly be considered an 'issue.' It blossoms organically, approaching it in a blasé way and embracing it without prejudice – outside of standard resistance in the narrative from bully archetypes.
Ghilherme Lobo stars as Leo, a blind teenager who's yet to have his first kiss. Despite his dependence on the literal guidance of his family and best female friend Giovana, played by Tess Amorim, he longs for escape and begins the process of applying for a student exchange program. However, a new student arrives in their classroom called Gabriel, played by Fabio Audi, who quickly settles into their friendship circle but upsets the balance when a boys-with- boys and girls-with-girls class projects separates them. As they begin spending time with each other, Gabriel adapting to the world of assisting the blind, they bond and their friendship grows to love.
Even in the darkest of times, the film is buoyant and breezy. The photography is typically bright regardless, matching the light-hearted tone. It's a slight story, one grounded without high- strung drama or lulls of monotony. In less careful hands this could be groan-worthy melodrama. The pacing keeps it brisk and focused, never lingering too long or too short on each sequence, but it does ultimately feel a little jumbled and as though it covers a much longer period of time than it most likely does. It's built on a gentle sense of humour, but it's best during the joys of young love and early experiences of tenderness, platonic or otherwise.
In hindsight of knowing that Lobo is not blind and a few years older than his character, his confident and convincing performance is remarkable. Usually great acting can be identified through the eyes, but inherently lacking this ability, he makes up for it with subtle movement in the rest of his face to show his engagement in the moment. The perspective of the blind is richly realized in the film, as Leo has to feel his way through the world. There's a physicality about being blind that the film captures, regarding the way that Leo has to hold onto an arm. Given that Brazilians are also quite affectionate with kisses to say hello and goodbye, the film is particularly intimate.
Amorim is the unsung hero of the film, who easily meets Lobo's match. She has the biggest emotions to work with, initially enamored with Leo then suffering while he unintentionally spends time away from her, and she expresses them with a nuance hinting at her internal conflict. The film thrives on the dramatic irony that Leo can't see any silent reaction from any characters, and it makes every moment rich, rather than obligatory. Audi doesn't quite reach their level, though he rarely has a reason to take things as seriously. Rather, he's a textbook 'manic pixie dream boy,' a popular phenomenon in indie movies these days, but he's one with charm.
The film does opt for certain clichés, particularly with the other classmates, including one girl who tries to make the love triangle into a square. They're quite one-note, which wouldn't be a problem if they didn't show up so often. The conflict with the parents also feels extraneous. The story doesn't need the immigration subplot, especially when Leo is so involved with what's going on at home. At many points, it does feel like they could have gone a lot bolder with those subversions, but these lighter portions are enough to be satisfying. However, especially with its overwhelmingly joyous choice of end credits song, The Way He Looks is a refreshing pick-me- up despite its contrivances. Considering its slightness a nomination is a long shot, but it will no doubt be a popular film if it catches on.
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