“The Way He Looks” (2014) (Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho) is a Brazilian coming-of-age film about a blind gay teenager (Leo) navigating school, bullies, his overprotective mom, arguing with his inseparable best friend, finding love, & a new sense of independence.
Great film. It did disability rep well. A central conflict is his mom, while she means well & they mostly have a good relationship, can also smother him sometimes out of concern. Contrasted with new kid Gabriel who treats him as capable with assistance & not needing protection.
Leo’s dad was another good contrast who was better about helping Leo do things for himself & more receptive than his mom about Leo wanting to do an exchange program in the US. And Leo’s grandmother who he had a really great relationship with & also treated him more independently.
It was also a really great queer coming-of-age story about a kid realizing he’s gay & navigating his feelings for another boy. Especially in a school where he starts out only having one friend & a really mean lead bully. Already feeling different enough without sticking out more.
Gotta say that sometimes the bullies were a bit too real. They really strongly reminded me of the ways I was bullied and sometimes I had to swallow down some seething rage on his behalf. Although at least the teachers treated him kindly and tried to put a stop to it.
If you loved Booksmart, you’ll probably love this film. It has a lot of similar tones. The film is overall kind to its queer characters with the overall sense they’re going to be okay as they continue to grow and find themselves.
It was also great to see a blind kid treated with a lot of independence. Given the right tools he could take care of himself just fine, and it was mostly abled people trying to dictate his limitations that were actually limiting him. He did fine when people allowed him to try.
It’s 1h 36m in Portuguese with English subtitles. Available for rent on most streaming platforms. Including the library streaming service kanopy for free. (Check your local library’s digital service. You probably have it.)
I also enjoyed this interview with Ghilherme Lobo, who plays Leo, in the South Florida Gay News.