London Film Festival review: The Way He Looks (2014)

Directed by Daniel Ribeiro.
Starring Ghilherme Lobo, Fabio Audi and Tess Amorim.

the way he looks poster


Leonardo, blind from birth, discovers that he is gay and in love with Gabriel, his best friend. Amidst school projects, a need to break free from his parents, and the changing dynamic in his friendship with Giovanna, whom he’s known since childhood, Leonardo begins to understand himself, and to believe that a future with Gabriel could be possible.

Leonardo and Gabriel 3

Writer-director Daniel Ribeiro returns with a feature-length version of I Don’t Want To Go Back Alone, his award-winning short film starring Leonardo, Gabriel and Giovanna.

Set in São Paulo, Brazil, The Way He Looks follows the story of Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo), a teenager blind since birth, as he discovers his sexuality and his feelings for the new boy in town, Gabriel (Fabio Audi). Along with his childhood friend Giovanna (Tess Amorim), who seems to harbour romantic feelings for him, Leo befriends Gabriel and the three become inseparable. That is, until a school project on Ancient Greece inevitably divides the group, propelling Leo’s feelings for Gabriel to grow and inciting Giovanna to confront her own unspoken affections for both boys.

Filmed in an intimate tone, with songs by Belle and Sebastian setting the mood for Leo and Gabriel, and featuring universally relatable experiences, the film addresses the question of where our sexuality comes from, as Leonardo has never seen a man or woman before. How are we attracted to others if not by sight? Daniel Ribeiro’s deftly written screenplay follows the three teenagers as they fight and make up, at school and at home and at parties and camping trips, capturing the reality of teenage life regardless of sexuality or the ability to see. The longing for independence, secrets and private emotions, and the feeling of falling in love for the first time are relatable no matter where one’s from or who they’re attracted to, and that’s why The Way He Looks speaks to the hearts of all.

The three actors reprise their roles from the short, three years since I Don’t Want To Go Back Alone premiered online and at several festivals around the world. Ghilherme Lobo delivers a fantastic performance as the lead, Leo, who struggles with discovering his budding attraction for his friend and teeters between doing something about it or staying quiet, all the while becoming increasingly stifled by his parents’ overprotectiveness that leaves him little room to breathe. As Leo begins to toy with the idea of an exchange program abroad, his relationship with his best friend Giovanna begins to strain, and as tensions rise the confrontation between them becomes inevitable.

Striking a fantastic balance between drama, comedy, and emotion, always on just the right side of lighthearted versus heavy, and best described as truthful, heartwarming, and spellbinding, The Way He Looks is absolutely worth your time and money a million times over. See it in UK cinemas from the 24th of September, while the DVD is set to be released on February 9th, 2015 and is available to preorder on Amazon.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ ★ ★  / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Stand by for an interview with the writer and director, Daniel Ribeiro.

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