The Way He looks is a Brazilian independent film about blind teenager, Leonardo who is craving independence after being looked after his whole life. The film explores his everyday life, sexuality and relationships with best friend Giovanna and new student, Gabriel. The film is based on Ribeiro’s award winning 17 minute short film called I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone (Eu Não Quero Voltar Sozinho) which he made in order to gain funding using the same actors that are in the feature length version.
I thought the film was incredibly well written and reflected the dynamic of teenage friendship/relationships accurately. Daniel Ribeiro explained during the Q&A that he “wanted to focus on the universal aspects of being a teenager” and that he feels that not all homosexual people should go through a period of questioning their sexuality, that it should be the case that a person meets someone, they fall in love and that’s it. That this film depicts how sexuality should be viewed in society. He went on to say that he didn’t want to create a film that victimised blind/disabled people or LGBTQA+ people. (whilst acknowledging that they can be victimised and that this is an issue in society), he wanted to portray a protagonist who was fiercely independent and just happened to be blind and homosexual. I think this is a really great attitude to have when approaching LGBTQA+ and disabled people’s stories and the problems they can face because it’s important that this is seen as normal, acceptable and something that doesn’t dominate someone’s identity.
When asked what inspired him, Daniel Ribeiro said that his first idea was to explore sexuality and where it comes from in humans, he decided to make the protagonist blind to combat the idea that being gay is a choice as clearly for character Leonardo, he fell in love with a man having never seen a man or a woman. He said he wanted to empower homosexual kids/ teenagers and I think this is definitely successful in the fact that the film is relatable to everyone who has been/is a teenager. It not only focuses on Leonardo’s relationship with Gabriel but that of his best friend Giovanna. Ribeiro says “everyone’s a little bit mean and a little bit selfish in this film because that’s life”. I felt that the 3 main characters were incredibly three dimensional, you could empathise with them easily. Ribeiro also stated that the film was “not about being a blind gay teenager, it’s about your first kiss, your first love” things that everyone can relate to.
Overall, this was a great experience. I even got to meet Daniel Ribeiro after the screening. The film is brilliant and I definitely recommend!
The original short film: