Yesterday I went to the movies to watch "The Way He Looks", a Brazilian movie directed by Daniel Ribeiro. In Portuguese its title is "Hoje eu quero voltar sozinho" [Today I Want to Come Back Alone].
The session was crowded, something very uncommon for a Brazilian movie on a Tuesday night. And the audience laughed, commented, sometimes shouted something about a scene and at the end many clapped their hands - something REALLY unusual in Brazil.
A couple of years ago I watched the shortfilm called "I Don't Want to Go Back Alone" (2010), also directed by Daniel Ribeiro, because other cinema lovers commented it was very good in the social community Filmow (nowadays it's the greatest community for cinephiles in Brazil). And it was great to see the trailer of "The Way He Looks" at the movies at the beginning of this year. I was anxious to watch it.
The shortfilm can be watched on YouTube (with subtitles in English):
The movie presents the same plot, but the characters (Giovana, Leonardo and Gabriel) are more developed, which makes the story even more interesting.
Leo(nardo) is a blind teenager and his best friend is Gi(ovana). They study together in a common school for not blind people. In some cities there are schools only for blind people.
After summer vacation, a new student enters the classroom, sits behind Leo and soon they three become friends.
At school Leo has to deal with some silly classmates, who are always trying to make a fool of him. And at home he has to deal with his overprotective mother.
Some typical issues of adolescence are also portrayed: Leo has never kissed anyone yet (and seems to be curious about it); Leo and Gi have a struggle; Leo wants to be more independent; how some people can be stupid on dealing with blind/different people (bullying); the discovery of love and sexuality.
The plot is simple, but the movie is very very beautiful! Little by little Gabriel shows Leo different things (like going to the movies, "seeing" an eclipse, how to dance, how to ride a bike) and Leo tries to tell him how it is to be a blind. I think love comes (also) from this effort of both of the boys trying to understand each other's world and make this something special and pleasant.
Gabriel and Leo dancing to the sound of Belle and Sebastian
What amazes me is that Leo could not see Gabriel, but he falls in love with him - he loves the way Gabriel makes him feel. Leo could have fallen in love with Gi (who is a really lovely girl too), but it didn't happen. Who explains love?
Maybe this movie is being very successful because many of us (Brazilians) are lacking "simpler" and more beautiful national movies. On the other hand, some of our other national cinema choices are: movies with violence and poverty; very silly comedies with popular actor/actresses from TV; very dramatic (and sometimes really good) movies. So "The Way He Looks" is kind of different of everything that is being produced in the country nowadays.
I recommend it a lot! ;)