Film Review: Warming, Sincere Teen Drama ‘The Way He Looks’

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Average: 5 (2 votes)

CHICAGO – Opening this weekend at the Music Box Theater is “The Way He Looks,” a Brazilian coming-of-age drama that navigates topics of living with blindness and sexual curiosity without an agenda. Though strained by an underdeveloped focal love triangle, these facets are explored with freeness within the developing era of high school crushes. “The Way He Looks” is Brazil’s official entry for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards.

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Rating: 3.0/5.0

Writer/director Daniel Ribeiro’s film begins with the friendship of Giovana (Tess Ahorim) and center character Leo (Ghilherme Lobo), who has been blind since birth. They have a close bond, in and out of high school. Before classes resume for the year, they are shown laying by a pool, discussing first kisses; Leo has never had one, and is not sure when it will happen. When school begins, Giovana helps Leo with reading what’s on the chalkboard to him, and even stands up for Leo when two bullies try to pick on him.

This friendship is challenged when another buddy enters the mix, Gabriel (Fabio Audi). A new student to the school, he creates a trio out of their tight duo. A love triangle it becomes: Giovana begins to fancy Gabriel a bit, but has competition with the class flirt; Leo bonds with Gabriel as the two work on a project together, but also find time to share music and understand each other’s perspectives; and Giovana has an affection for Leo as well, though he has never considered her in that fashion.

With Leo’s experience given center perspective, the story follows him as he matures with his visual impairment, such as when he wants to learn how to shave, or when he creates a subplot out of hoping to sign up for a foreign exchange program. Without dramatic manipulation, Leo faces conflicts from bullies that refuse to understand Leo, or even his overly-concerned mother. Essential to the story’s power with this unique character and his life events is a non-showy sweetness by Lobo, who provides the film a heart that it builds upon.

“The Way He Looks” opens at Chicago’s Music Box Theater on January 2. Featuring Tess Ahorim, Fabio Audi, and Ghilherme Lobo. Written and directed by Daniel Ribeiro. Not Rated.

StarContinue reading for Nick Allen’s full review of “The Way He Looks”

“The
The Way He Looks

StarContinue reading for Nick Allen’s full review of “The Way He Looks”

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