The way he looks (2014), Daniel Ribeiro

This movie was developed from the short film Eu Não Quero Voltar Sozinho.

People say that the opening scene is very important, for it can be read as capturing the overall spirit of the movie. This Brazilian film starts with a boy and a girl in swimsuit lying beside the pool. They are spending their bantering leisure time talking about summer vacation and sexual discoveries. Yes, it smells like teen spirit, with hormones and adolescent problems.

Why is it that Leo, the protagonist of the film, is innately blind? Is it because the director wants to emphasize the acoustic and tactile and fragranced aspects of intimacy, which blurs the boundary of gender difference?

He is young and beautiful, and he loves classical music. Who doesn’t want to protect such a lovely creature? His parents, however, are a little too overprotective. Growing up with such disability, Leo knows too well that he is different, and that other people manage to act as if it is no big of a deal in order to lessen his anxiety, so at some point he would love to start over in a completely new environment where he could know how real this life could be to a sightless man.

Apart from that adolescent problem, there’s also Leo’s aspiration to feel the intimate touches of another body. Then we have Gabriel, a pretty cool newcomer to town who makes Leo’s wish come true.

One of the themes of this movie could possibly be communication. Gabriel tries to use Leo’s language to help him expand his world, and it’s the language of touches and sounds.

I love coming-of-age movies because they help me relived all the possibilities of my youth, which I have and have not yet been through. Youth is a fleeting glimpse, but it harbors the eternity (Goethe).

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