Film review: The Way He Looks @ Clapham PIcturehouse

The Way He Looks is a beautiful and thoroughly absorbing story of first love and a teenager’s struggle for independence.

You can see why the film is gaining Oscar traction, it’s an incredibly well written exploration of universal coming of age themes.

The only issue is the plot is based on a simple and not entirely plausible premise – that two mid-to-late teenagers having never been kissed.

Aside from this The Way He Looks is a must see for all foreign film fans.

The film is a feature-length version of auteur Daniel Ribeiro’s 17-minute award winning 2010 short movie and is his first feature.

The same actors star in the movie as the short but with the addition of an extended supporting cast and the added dimension of a pursuit for main character Leo.

The shift is apparent in the films’ titles, the short is called I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone, while the full-length feature’s Portuguese title is Today I Want To Go Back Alone.

This is both a feature to show the further depth that has been added to the characters and plot, but also an insight into the tremendous popularity of the short in Brazil.

It comes as no shock that it’s Brazil’s selection it for its foreign language movie in the 2015 Oscars.

The story is set around Leonardo (Ghilerme Lobo) a Brazilian teenager blind since birth and his best friend Giovana (Tess Amorim) who live in a very routine life.

Leonardo is frustrated at his lack of independence from his overprotective mother and the film centers’ more around family tensions than any love story.

Leo and Giovana find their lives change with the introduction of new classmate Gabriel (Fabio Audi) and the drama unfolds.

The plot is subtly written and Ribeiro is careful not to say too much, keeping it gentle and allowing the characters interactions to carry the weight of the film rather than any strong plot lines.

“I didn’t want the word gay to be in the movie and it’s not,” said Ribeiro. This is clear in the movie as he avoids a stereotypical ‘coming out’ scene.

By his own admission this is to avoid focusing solely on Leonardo’s sexuality which keeps the plot realistically rounded.

Like all teenagers, Leo has many problems to resolve on his path to adulthood and his sexuality is only one of the complex issues he faces.

Ghilerme Lobo gives a power house performance as frustrated teen Leo, prompting more than one post-movie debate about whether the actor is himself blind.

Tess Amorim plays Giovana fantastically; her performance is best highlighted by the subtle facial and body language expressions that Leonardo is unable to pick up on.

Fabio Audi gives the weakest performance of the protagonists, at times lacking the charisma required to portray the heartthrob foil to the two best friends.

The Way He Looks is definitely going to be a real hit for all indie film fanatics and is full to the brim with beautiful little moments.


The film is set to hit UK cinema screens on the October 24.

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