As a teenager, you know this feeling all too well. Wherever you go and whatever you do, you feel people’s eyes burning down your skin, looking, judging. You’re forever comparing yourself with those around you in every single aspect, warping reality to make yourself look hopeless in your head all the time. And those around you don’t help to stop it, because, well, they are doing the same. You’re never good enough.
Meet Leonardo. He sort of feels this way too. And the fact that he is blind does not help matters. And for him, some people seem to make it their job to actively remind him of his disability every single day, in cruel ways. His rebellious streak lands him in his further trouble, his determination to be able to do anything that non-blind people can do. It sometimes feels he is trying to be unreasonable.
“You, alone in the dark?”
“Mom, it’s always dark for me.”
And in this setting, someone comes along who changes Leonardo’s life forever. Gabriel, the new kid in school is an interesting person. For one, he doesn’t seem to be able to make sweeping judgements everyone else could make with such ease about people around them. He keeps forgetting that Leonardo is blind, and even when he finally does get the hang of it, he has the natural ability to be able to separate the blindness from Leonardo’s personality itself, just like no one would decide someone was dumb if they wore a band-aid on their leg. And he thinks the cute, flirty girl in school is just a cute, flirty girl. Not a desperate slut.
Leonardo’s and Gabriel’s friendship keeps growing, much to Giovanna’s, Leonardo’s best (only) friend’s dismay. They do things Leonardo never imagined he would ever do, they dance, go to the movies, and “watch” the eclipse. The viewers are in for a treat as the passion flows off the screen.
The Way He Looks is a simple, innocent film that will hit you right in the feels. Watch it for an hour and a half of a warm, slightly happy feeling as you are transported into Leonardo’s life with Ghilherme Lobo’s brilliant acting and the absorbing soundtrack. The fact that the movie deals with disability and homosexuality by itself make for an interesting watch, but what stayed with me after was the refreshing mix of innocence and maturity in the Gabriel character. And yes, his crinkly smile, and soft, gentle curls.
Note: I suggest watching the film in the original language, Portuguese with subtitles. Emotions can’t really be ported properly into another language!