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RCE Info


Way He Looks, The

Strand Releasing // Unrated // March 17, 2015
List Price: $32.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted April 2, 2015 | E-mail the Author

The Movie:

I appreciate that The Way He Looks is a well-executed typical high school romance, one that we all know and love, where the love interests just happen to be gay. Instead of focusing on this aspect of the story and filling the screenplay with homophobia-related conflict that's expected from gay romances, writer/director Daniel Ribeiro deftly examines the awkwardness of first love, the way teenagers take their clumsy first steps into a relationship, may it be gay or straight.

When Dan O'Bannon wrote the first draft of Alien, he didn't assign any genders to his characters, stating that whoever would turn out to be the best choices for the roles could grab them. I long for a time when any romance could turn straight or gay solely on the casting of the best actors for the parts and the screenplay could go into production without any major changes in the story. The Way He Looks comes pretty close to that goal.

Even though we get the feeling that the love interests might be extra skittish about confessing their feelings for each other because of what society might think of them if they came out, this possible conflict is never expressly exploited and it's basically up to the audience to figure out if the characters' sexual orientation is a concern for them, or if we're basically just dealing with good old fashioned teenage awkwardness.

Most of the screenplay's structure focuses on that painful period in high school where you have a crush on a best friend and have no idea how to express your feelings to them. The obligatory coming out scene takes place very late in the story and when it happens, it's treated more as a bookend rather than melodramatic conflict.

As Leo (Ghilherme Lobo), a blind high school student, tries to explore the world and become more independent despite his disability, he's also in the midst of figuring out his sexuality. His best friend Giovana (Tess Amorim) teases him because he never even kissed a girl. However, Giovanna is a bit of a wallflower herself, and is lacking in sexual experience as well. When a good-looking and charismatic boy named Gabriel (Fabio Audi) shows up at their class one day and gradually becomes friends with Leo and Giovanna, Leo begins to grapple with his feelings for Gabriel.

With his first feature, Daniel Ribeiro shows that he has an ear for authentic dialogue and talent for bringing out natural performances from young actors. After having to sit through many American high school romances that tend to be overtly glossy and artificially attractive, this Brazilian flick was the one that gave me that particular feeling of nostalgia that similar Hollywood productions strive for. This might be because, from the casting choices to the natural look and feel of the film, everything about it is reminiscent of the awkwardness, isolation and excitement of high school.

Ribeiro captures the delicate balance between the characters' burgeoning sexuality, their first steps into adulthood, and the childish innocence that still exists within them. For example, when Giovana sees a rival "slut" hitting on Gabriel, she tries to shrug off the competition by saying "I can't believe she's holding his hand. I bet she didn't even wash it". As far as the conflict around the characters being gay is concerned, Ribeiro handles that perfectly with a final scene that illustrates how one should deal with bullies.

The Blu-Ray:


The Way He Looks has a natural, evenly lit look. Even though the look serves the story fairly well, there isn't any revolutionary digital cinematography on display here. The 1080p transfer is very crisp as it shows an impressively high bit rate.


Being a low-budget romance from Brazil, one should not expect a lot of surround presence or power from the DTS-HD 5.1 track that's provided on the disc. Even the occasional Belle and Sebastian tracks come from the front speakers. That being said, the dialogue and score all sound clean and crisp.


For some reason, there isn't a pop-up menu option on this disc. You have to access the extras and set up options from the main menu.

Deleted Scenes: 15 minutes of deleted material with an introduction by the director. Some interesting tidbits can be found here.

Being The Scenes: A ten-minute string of casual behind-the-scenes footage that mostly shows the young actors goofing around.

Interviews: This 26-minute interview can be hard to sit through because it sticks to a single long shot that covers the director, two lead actors and the producer. Nevertheless, the team gives some insight into the film's themes and production.

I Don't Want To Go Back Alone: This is the 17-minute short film that Ribeiro shot before securing a feature deal. It basically truncates the same story and has the same three leads in the cast. Interestingly, it has a more film-like look than the feature, maybe it was shot on film.

We also get a Trailer.

Final Thoughts:

The Way He Looks is a sweet and delicate romance that feels natural and should fill the audience with a considerable amount of nostalgia, whether they are gay or straight. The disc contains a transfer that's clean without any video noise and tons of extras that should keep fans busy.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and

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