The Way He Looks (2014)
Cast: Ghilherme Lobo, Fabio Audi and Tess Amorim
Director, Writer and Co-Producer: Daniel Ribeiro
Genre: Coming-Of-Age Drama Film
Synopsis: This film is about a blind high school student in Brazil named Leonardo. His best friend, Giovanna, supports him and assists him in daily tasks until a new boy, Gabriel, joins their class. Gabriel and Leonardo quickly begin to spend time together, eventually developing feelings for one another. However, there is some confusion about whether or not Gabriel shares the same feelings Leonardo has developed. In the end, Gabriel and Leonardo express their feelings and start dating, which they do not hide from their peers at school.
Review: The Way He Looks is a modern love story which is apparent through the plot, direction, writing and costume throughout the film. It is a great example of a unique twist on a traditional love story because it involves a boy who is both blind and gay. This provokes an intersectional analysis due to the complications expressed throughout the movie due to the protagonist being disabled and homosexual. For instance, Leonardo is rarely allowed to be left alone due to the strict reign his parents have on him because of his impairment. However, there is no input about whether or not his parents accept his relationship with Gabriel. The only slight perspective from an elder is given from his grandmother who smiles and seems supportive of Gabriel and Leonardo’s developing relationship although it remains unclear if she views it as simply a friendship or something more. This goes against the standard story found in most societies because it breaks away from what populations have developed as “normal.” For instance, very little homophobia is apparent throughout the film. The only display of homophobia occurs when Leonardo expresses his feelings about Gabriel to Giovanna. Initially, she is shocked and runs away. Shortly after, she accepts her best friend’s feelings and supports the relationship. This movie can also be related to theories of globalization because Leonardo constantly expresses the need to travel, especially to the United States. He views the US as a place where he can accomplish his goals to be an independent person which is commonly a view perceived about America: a place where dreams can come true.
Daniel Ribeiro successfully develops the story through a well-written script and clear direction. Although some parts seem to drag out, the casual conversation allows the audience to connect with the characters on a personal level. We learn about each character’s past, present and hopes for the future. Ribeiro’s creation of the character Leonardo permits an unbiased view on gender, race, and sexuality because his lack of sight allows him to determine his opinions about people based on the way they talk and the actions they make, not the way they look. In this movie, Leonardo’s disability is not fixed which commonly occurs in most other films with a impaired protagonist in order to achieve a happy ending. Leonardo may be seen as “not normal” to some because he is not considered to be able-bodied. Leonardo’s lack of sight is exposed and criticized in moments but in the end, Leonardo attains the relationship he wants proving that he is not as limited as he may appear. The filmed perspective allows us to feel as if we are watching the story beside the characters. The script is also very modern, including swear words and slang used by youth today. The dialogue is easily understood despite being in a language other than English which shows that Ribeiro is talented at writing and directing. He is able to illustrate Brazilian culture in a way that can be easily understood across all societies. Furthermore, the costumes are modern and fashionable, allowing the younger members of the audience to connect with people our age in another country.
The final scene involves Leonardo walking out of school with Giovanna and Gabriel, holding Gabriel’s arm for guidance. The class bully starts to make a snide remark about Leonardo’s “new boyfriend” so Leonardo grabs Gabriel’s hand and continues to walk away with his two friends. The bully proceeds to stay quiet, embarrassed by his comment. This scene illustrates the confidence Leonardo and his friends have about his relationship. No further bullying occurs from his peers which breaks apart from typical social constructions developed regarding disabled people and homosexuals in most societies. Unfortunately, it is very common for emerging homosexuals to be berated for their feelings by their friends and families. However, this film refrains from including any sort of negative connotations about being gay. This relates to class themes found within GNDS 125 because it is an example of how to react to finding out a peer is homosexual in a non-hostile, appropriate manner. I personally think this scene is incredibly endearing; it ends the movie with a positive, happy ambiance.
Attending Reelout Film Festival gave me personal insight into a part of the Kingston community I have never experienced before. I am surprised by the amount of support given by local businesses seen in the advertisements before the movie started. The theater was completely full of people ranging from university students to older people, of all genders.Overall, it is a fun environment that is inclusive for new and regular attendees.
I highly recommend this movie for anyone interested in an adolescent love-story with engaging characters and a delightful ending.
Sources: “The Way He Looks.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, 26 Dec. 2014. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.