The Way He Looks Review

The Way He Looks

Coming-of-age tale, The Way He Looks, arrives in the UK on general release with some confidence. Having toured the European festival circuit to great success, it has now been submitted as Brazil’s official entry into the foreign language category for the 2015 Oscars. With that knowledge in mind, one comes to it expecting great things. What a lovely sensation it is to be able to impart that it most certainly delivers.

The film is the culmination of Brazilian writer/director Daniel Ribeiro’s endeavours and represents his first foray into feature-length film, having previously cut his teeth on a number of shorts, along with eight episodes on the 2009 television series Tudo O Que E Solido Pode Derreter.

Leonardo (Gilherme Lobo) is a blind teenage boy. His best friend is the kind-hearted Giovana (Tess Amorim). Together, they fret about first kisses and playground politics, whilst Leo in particular spends the remainder of his time dreaming of foreign climes and participation in a foreign exchange programme. His obstacle is his blindness, but his will is great. The cosy relationship between Leo and Giovana is rocked with the arrival of new boy, Gabriel (Fabio Audi). As a friendship (and possibly more) blossoms between Leo and Gabriel, Giovana is left unsure of her place, bringing her a bitter actualisation of the aphorism ‘twos a company, three’s a crowd’.

Ribeiro offers a commendable sensitivity to a story that could easily be side-tracked by the plight of disability. It is a potential rabbit hole from which he pulls

The Way He Looks clear. He touches base with it, but never lets it overtake the wider tale being told; the search for identity, independence and sexuality. His work even reflects sympathetically at the broader perimeters of the story, such as Leo’s parents’ battle with the struggles of teenage expression compounded by the additional worry/anxiety of a visually impaired son.

The script contains plentiful mentions of planetary activity, and it forms an apposite metaphor for the shifting universe of Leo. Additionally, visually, the utilisation of aerial mid-distance shots with characters in the centre of the frame splayed horizontally, is a pleasant recurring theme.

The work, as a whole, captures the early throes of sensuality and first thrushes of kissing, much a like a Brazilian take on P’Tang Yang Kipperbang (1982), but with added success. There is a fulfilling conclusion to each facet of the story, and it ensures that this film resides in the memory and tugs at the heartstrings in the most uplifting manner. In fact, such is the fine meter of balance, that it is hard to believe that this is Ribeiro’s debut feature film. An astounding success worthy of every accolade.

The Way He Looks is in cinemas from 24th October 2014.

About The Author

Having upped sticks and marched down the A13 from Essex into the smog of London, Greg can be found ranting and raging as the Film Correspondent on the Jon Gaunt Show from time to time and also on his weekly 'The Film Review' podcast (plug alert - available on iTunes and Audioboom). Aside from Front Row Reviews, he also scribbles regularly for HeyUGuys. Lowlights, thus far, have been John Hurt scolding with the question 'do you really think like that?', upsetting acclaimed filmmaker Ondi Timoner with his piece for the Sunday Mirror and falling out with the blog editor of the Huffington Post. Oh, and he did bring Liv Ullmann to tears (but in a good way... more of a highlight, that one). He can also be found writing on theatre and music for the Islington Gazette, Ham & High, Hackney Gazette, Bargain Theatre, SupaJam and others. He's often moaning about how tired he is, and he's a frustrated musician.

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