The Way He Looks / Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho is sexy, sweet and, if you’ll pardon the pun, a bit of of an eye-opener.
An expansion of the award-winning 2010 short I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone screened at the 2012 VQFF, The Way He Looks brings back the same actors, core characters and a similar but more complex story.
The original plot was fairly straightforward: blind high school student Leo and his BFF Gia are both infatuated with handsome newcomer Gabriel, who becomes friends with both, but much to Gia’s Chagrin ends up spending more time with Leo. The two boys eventually discover their feelings for each other and the film ends with their kiss.
The Way He Looks adds several characters including Leo’s overprotective parents, some school bullies, another girl with the hots for Gabriel and a few extra layers to the original story. It most importantly places a bigger focus on Leo and his world as a blind teenager. This film is more than an adorable love story, it’s an excellent coming-of-age story as well.
The film avoids some tired old coming-out clichés. The bullies did add a little bit of coming-out drama as Gabriel and Leo gradually became more than friends, but they and the overprotective parents mostly help to justify Leo’s need to spread his wings and test his independence.
Leo (Ghilherme Lobo) and Gabriel (Fabio Audi) have great chemistry, especially when one is teaching the other such as Gabriel’s astronomy lesson as tries to explain to the blind Leo what a lunar eclipse is.
Ghilherme Lobo, who plays the blind Leo is not blind in real life, but absolutely nails his portrayal, never focusing with his eyes and in using his hands or other senses to connect with the world.
The Way He Looks is a super-sweet love story that will also make you think about the experience of people with disabilities. A win all around.
The Way He Looks (Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho). Written and directed by Daniel Ribeiro. A Lacuna Filmes production. In Portugese with English subtitles. Repeats at the 2014 Vancouver Queer Film Festival on Thursday, August 21.
Nicolas Demers is a web developer and blogger living in Vancouver’s West End. In his spare time he enjoys science-fiction, photography, and is actively involved with the Vancouver Gay Volleyball Association.