The Way He Looks

"Excellent"

The Way He Looks Review


From Brazil, this charming teen drama is disarming and engaging as it explores first love and burgeoning sexuality. Winner of a top prize at the Berlin Film Festival, the movie is warm and funny, with an honest approach that's rarely seen on-screen. And filmmaker Daniel Ribeiro takes such a relaxed approach to the story that the characters are instantly recognisable, dealing with issues anyone who has been through adolescence will readily identify with. Most important is the way it offers hope for kids who are outside the mainstream.

At the centre, 17-year-old Leo (Guilherme Lobo) is a cheeky blind student who relies on his best friend Giovana (Tess Amorim) to navigate his way through school. He doesn't have a clue that she has a crush on him, which is just as well since he is instantly intrigued by a new kid in class, Gabriel (Fabio Audi). It's bad enough being blind, but how is he supposed to know if Gabriel likes him as well? Because it seems like he's more interested in the class slut Karina (Isabela Guasco). Meanwhile, the idiotic school bully Fabio (Pedro Carvalho) and his gang are making Leo's life miserable, but he just gets on with things. Yearning for some independence from his protective parents (Eucir de Souza and Lucia Romano), Leo starts looking into foreign exchange programmes, which shocks Giovana.

This may sound like the usual teen romantic triangle, but it's played with such a gentle pace and earthy humour that every scene catches us by surprise. Filmmaker Ribeiro has a way with depicting key moments in an offhanded way that sends happy chills down the spine, delving into serious emotions without even a hint of sentimentality. And for a film with issues of disability and sexuality, it's remarkabl that it never preaches its messages. Leo, Giovana and Gabriel are characters who do the usual teenage things in startlingly realistic ways that never fall back on the usual high school movie cliches.

All three actors recreate their roles from Ribeiro's short version of this story (shot when they were 14), and they wonderfully capture both the edgy humour and unexpected emotions of adolescence. Relationships shift unexpectedly, while awkward conversations reveal dark truths that help the characters move forward. But at the centre, this is a story about the disorienting surprise of first love. And as Leo begins to work out how he feels, the film knowingly touches on some much bigger issues including bullying and peer pressure. Most of all, it's refreshing to see a movie that isn't afraid to make the audience feel warm inside, and also one in which being blind and gay is essentially irrelevant.

 

Rich Cline



The Way He Looks

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 96 mins

In Theaters: Friday 7th November 2014

Box Office USA: $84.6k

Distributed by: Strand Releasing

Production compaines: Lacuna Filmes

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Fresh: 26 Rotten: 2

IMDB: 8.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Daniel Ribeiro

Producer: Daniel Ribeiro, Diana Almeida

Starring: Ghilherme Lobo as Leonardo, Fabio Audi as Gabriel, Selma Egrei as Maria, Tess Amorim as Giovana, Eucir de Souza as Carlos, Júlio Machado as Professor, Naruna Costa as Professora

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