Thursday, November 6, 2014

Movie with Abe: The Way He Looks

The Way He Looks
Directed by Daniel Ribeiro
Released November 7, 2014

I often begin my reviews by talking about titles, and that’s certainly how I have to start with this film. I’ll note that I’m analyzing a title that’s been translated from another language, but I still think that it speaks volumes. “The Way He Looks” tells the story of Leonardo, a blind teenager in Brazil, who finds himself frequently bullied by classmates in school and subject to overprotective parents at home. This is a film about how one person looks at the world without seeing and how others looks at him, some with sympathy, some with pity, and some as if he is no different than someone who can see. That intriguing angle is complemented by an engaging story that isn’t too complicated but still serves to be more than adequately involving.

Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo) is a free spirit who happens to be blind, and is subject to cruel torment by those in his class, who mock the loud sound of the typewriter he uses to take notes and rudely resent the idea of being seated behind him as a punishment. His one friend is Giovana (Tess Amorim), who stands by him and walks him home after school each day. The arrival of a new student, Gabriel (Fabio Audi), piques the interest of both Leonardo and Giovana and begins to show Leonardo that there is more out there in the world, coinciding with a sudden interest on his part in the idea of studying abroad.

This is a movie about kids who don’t know much about the world but still possess a surprising insight into what life entails. Gabriel is the mysterious new kid who radiates a certain energy that draws the popular girls to him, but he chooses to spend his time with Leonardo since he sees a kindred spirit in him. His effect on Leonardo and Giovana’s relationship is not subtle, and it helps to transform all three characters in dynamic ways. All three young actors are talented and perform well, and though I’m not a devotee of Brazilian cinema, I do hope to see them again (this film earning a nomination for Best Foreign Film as Brazil’s official submission could help with that). “The Way He Looks” contrasts cruelty and kindness in a fascinating way, and its story is one that manages to be memorable and enticing without much cinematic flair or dramatics.


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