By Don Simpson | September 15, 2014
Director: Daniel Ribeiro
Writer: Daniel Ribeiro
Starring: Ghilherme Lobo, Tess Amorim, Fabio Audi, Selma Egrei, Isabela Guasco, Victor Filgueiras, Eucir de Souza
Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo) has been blind since birth. He tries to blend in with his high school peers, obviously attempting to not attract any attention to his disability. With the aid of his childhood best friend, Giovana (Tess Amorim), Leonardo maneuvers around the familiar terrain of the school without the aid of a walking stick; nonetheless, his blank stare and loud braille typewriter open him up to ridicule from some of his more mean-spirited classmates.
Frustrated with his over-bearing parents (Lucia Romano and Eucir de Souza), Leonardo craves independence from the protective bubble that they have built around him. A typical teenager, Leonardo grows increasingly rebellious. Leonardo realizes that he will never grow up as long as his parents are sheltering him; all the while, his parents do not want to accept the fact that Leonardo is rapidly maturing.
As his age would suggest, Leonardo’s hormones are going crazy. He wants to fall in love, but he is not confident enough to believe that anyone would want to kiss him. One of the more blatant metaphors in The Way He Looks is that Leonardo is totally blind to Giovana’s flirtations. Then, enter Gabriel (Fabio Audi), an attractive transfer student who catches the eye of several girls in Leonardo’s class. Gabriel, however, opts to befriend Leonardo and Giovana, creating a rift of jealousy between the two lifelong friends.
Sweet and tender, Daniel Ribeiro’s The Way He Looks captures the desperate clumsiness and youthful naivete of Leonardo as he shakes free of his shell. Whether it be his sudden willingness to do things that he has never done before — go to a movie theater, sneak out in the middle of the night to experience a lunar eclipse, attend a high school party, etc. — or his increase in sexual desire, Leonardo’s actions seem clumsily natural. It is a convincing lead performance that will never make you question whether or not Ghilherme Lobo is truly visually impaired.
Ribeiro cleverly uses blindness as a metaphor for Leonardo’s burgeoning sexuality. Just as he tries to conceal his blindness, Leonardo is apprehensive to reveal that he is gay. The Way He Looks also serves as a convincing argument that sexuality is not chosen and that attraction is not purely visual. Nothing turns Leonardo gay; his attraction to Gabriel is completely organic.