There have been many coming of age films over the years, with the best ones often approaching the subject from a particular angle. The magnificent We Are The Best did it through punk music. The Virgin Suicides addressed the topic through a mystery. Whilst 10 Things I Hate About You used Shakespeare as its muse. In Daniel Ribeiro’s The Way He Looks the progression to adulthood is tackled from the viewpoint of Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo), a blind teen struggling to come to terms with his sexuality.
Leonardo (Lobo) and Giovana (Tess Amorim) are best friends who’ve grown up together. Leo relies on her to always look out for him. However, they are no match for the bullies at school. Leo dreams of starting afresh some place where no one knows him. That is until new boy Gabriel (Fabio Audi) joins their class. Whilst the trio initially hang out together, Gi soon becomes jealous of the friendship between the pair. At the same time Leo finds he has feelings about Gabriel which he struggles to express.
Daniel Ribeiro’s first feature film is an entertaining and refreshing take on an over-subscribed genre. The young cast are superb, and there seems to be something of a renaissance currently taking place in the Brazilian film industry. There’s some beautiful and amusing touches. Ribeiro uses music and humour to avoid The Way He Looks ever becoming anything other than a delight to watch. The script and editing ensure that the pace never drops and that there’s nothing superfluous to the central story.
The Way He Looks is released on DVD by Peccadillo Pictures on February 9.