Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo) is a blind teenager whose life has some semblance of normality; he has a strong home life, he and his best friend Giovana (Tess Amorim) care deeply for one another and, while he is searching for independence, he knows that this is some way off yet. All of this changes when Gabriel (Fabio Audi) enters his life, and he suddenly perceives the world in a different way.
The Way He Looks is based on a 2010 short film about the same subject, and reunites cast and director for a lengthy exploration of life as a blind teenager, and what happens when a person comes between two friends. The young cast do admirably in their roles and make the teenagers relatable and sweet. Their struggles may be fairly common in the grand scheme of things, but throwing in a visually impaired boy and the notions of sexuality makes the film a more interesting watch.
The story is rather simple and, since it is so simple, it feels drawn out at times. While it is a pleasure to spend time in the world of Gio, Leo and Gabriel, there are times when the film feels unsure as to what it is trying to achieve, and the message it contains. Thankfully, this all comes together over a lost hoodie, but this then means that the story crashes to a close, with many plot points pushed together in a few minutes.
Screenwriter and director Daniel Ribeiro coaxes good performances from his actors and directs capably, but struggles when it comes to pacing the film, and it feels as though certain plot points are introduced for the sake of filling the running time. That said, however, the chemistry between the three leads is lovely, and this carries the film through its lulls.
In all, The Way He Looks is a sweet tale of adolescence, love and friendship that is carried through good performances and strong chemistry. The pacing is a bit of a mess, however, and when things come together, it almost feels as though its too late for the film to have a fitting resolution.