The Way He Looks
What else can one say about "The Way He Looks?" The movie is a gem. It’s a young gay love story, with a very edgy twist. "The Way He Looks" is based upon the award winning short "I Don’t Want To Go Back Alone". Though I never read the short, I can safely say that this movie is a must-see for anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight, this move will strike the hearts of those who believe in love, and for those that believe in love against the odds.
The story begins and centers around two best friends: A young man named Leonardo, who happens to be blind, and Giovana, a young woman. Right from the start, the two are inseparable. They talk about everything and spend every waking moment together, as best friends do. Watching the way the two interact, you feel that maybe she has a small sort of crush on him, though she never really admits it.
Leonardo is dealing with his own struggles. His family -- in particular, his mother -- can’t seem to let him grow up. During some of the scenes, you sense that she is being more than just protective of him. His father, on the other hand, plays peacemaker. He understands Leonardo in a way that his mother doesn’t. In many cases, his father is willing to go to bat for him, where his mother just dismisses things.
Most of the internal and external struggles that lie between the three of them have to do with Leo’s blindness. Leo wants to be treated like a normal kid. He wants to be left alone. He wants to go out when he wishes. His mothers tends to stifle his growth in many instances. It leaves the viewer wondering if her over-protectiveness is out of love, or something else. All the while, his father is the only one that really does give him a chance to be treated as a grown-up. He also tries to educate Leo on doing things for the right reasons. As he states in one scene, "Don’t make the choice to do this because of the fighting. Be sure you are making this choice for the right reasons."
During Leo’s school time, he is bullied by a few young men. They poke fun at him in the beginning because of his blindness. This scenario puts the viewer in the shoes of a blind person, experiencing his feelings about being blind and the way others treat him, day after day. Some go out of their way to help him out, others do the opposite.
Then a new boy by the name of Gabriel arrives on the scene. Gabriel takes an instant liking to Leo and Giovana. As time goes on, he takes more of a liking to Leo, and the two become fast friends. They begin to do everything together, while slowly Giovana becomes the third wheel.
Giovana reacts with jealousy. She begins to blame Gabriel for coming between her and Leo (which I attribute to her own attraction to Leo). Leo begins to have his doubts, too. Katrina, the school flirt, begins to position herself to go after Gabriel, which, unfortunately for her, is a moot point, given Gabriel’s feelings for Leo. Meanwhile, the school bullies are continuing to humiliate Leo.
"The Way He Looks" is truly an inspirational movie. Whether it teaches tolerance and compassion for those that are blind or those that are gay, this movie brings it all to the table. It shows the strengths and weaknesses that can come from first loves and even from friends and family. It also shows how we can remain strong in the face of adversity. It shows that we are all human. We all have feelings. Sometimes those feelings can be hurt. Sometimes someone doesn’t love us in the way we wanted them to. Sometimes we are confronted with a challenge that we are meant to overcome.
Either way, "The Way He Looks" teaches that compassion, tolerance and love is all around us. We just have to open our eyes and look for it.
This article is part of our "Cinema Q 2014" series. Want to read more?
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