THE WAY HE LOOKS | QUEER SCREEN FILM FESTIVAL OPENING NIGHT FILM | MOVIE REVIEW

THE WAY HE LOOKS (aka Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho) is a Brazilian coming of age movie that is playing as the opening night movie for the 2014 Queer Screen Film Festival in Sydney. The 2014 Queer Screen Film Festival has eleven sessions of great movies screening between 17 and 21 September at Event Cinemas George Street and Dendy Newtown. Most of these movies are incredible and their closing night movie, PRIDE, has already been dubbed an Oscar dark horse. Four out of the eleven movies screening have already sold out so head on over to their site and grab some tickets. Most of these will not get an official Australian release so this will be the only opportunity to see some amazing GLBT movies on-screen. THE WAY HE LOOKS has a festival rating similar to an M rating and the movie runs for 95mins. 

 

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THE WAY HE LOOKS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW FOR 2014 QUEER SCREEN FILM FESTIVAL | BRAZILIAN MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY JASON KING

Leonardo is blind, he is a teenager, and no one knows, he is gay. He is at the time of his life where he wants independence. He has loving parents who have spent his entire life looking after him and are somewhat overprotective. He has a great friend in Giovana, a girl who is inseparable from him and assists him everywhere. Giovana loves him and is desperate for love and intimacy but to Leonardo Giovana is a sister for ever.

They go to a typical school that has some nice people but generally a lot of assholes, it is that time of life when kids are discovering themselves and the life they have at home reflects at school into their own personalities. This is where the movie hit a chord for me – it was so realistic in its delivery of the school world and the students. There was the blonde haired asshole that thought he was a joker but really would have had immense issues in his home life. I had one of these guys in my life at school – I was horrendously bullied by him and was terrified of school for a very long time while I discovered myself and hid my secret. Years later I discovered the asshole I had was regularly beaten at home and ended up suffering heroin issues – not sure where he ended up but if anything I feel sorry for him now. Oddly one of my other bullies ran into me years after school and bought me drinks and sat down and apologised for being such an asshole. It was great to hear.

But poor Leonardo has an added level of torment from his school assholes, he cannot see them. And this makes their treatment of him at times immensely more cruel.

 

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THE WAY HE LOOKS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW FOR 2014 QUEER SCREEN FILM FESTIVAL | GABRIEL (FABIO AUDI), LEONARDO (GHILHERME LOBO) AND GIOVANA (TESS AMORIM) WALK HOME FROM SCHOOL

 

A new boy starts at the school and like any new good looking student at a school gains an instant celebrity as everyone tries to campaign for them to join their own social group. As Gabriel sits behind Leonardo and his incredibly loud braille typewriter he starts bonding with Leonardo and Giovana and so it is settled he joins the group. In typical three way friendships jealousy oozes in and the friends face some rocky times. But lucky for Leonardo, Gabriel is also secretly gay and has his own feelings and demons to face.

The story of this film is not new, it is a very typical coming out school story. That is one of the ironic things about coming out – millions of people have gone through incredibly similar things in their outing but it is a personal journey that is a HUGE emotional battle for everyone who experiences it.

While the story of the film is not overly new, the delivery of it is refreshing and the film is just so beautiful and touching and the characters so likable. And the fact it is a person with sight issues as the lead character is truly new and adds an extra dimension to the film. What it does for showing people with blindness is as important as it is for showing a gay coming of age experience. Blind people are just as normal as you and me – they are just sight challenged. One of my closest friends from school went blind towards the end of school – since then he has sailed more than six Sydney to Hobarts and skippered one of them – he cannot see and has done more in life than I can imagine – do not ever think disability sets people back. It is all about discipline and determination.

 

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THE WAY HE LOOKS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW FOR 2014 QUEER SCREEN FILM FESTIVAL | GABRIEL (FABIO AUDI), LEONARDO (GHILHERME LOBO) IN CLASS

 

The acting in the film is remarkable. From parents to all the students it is flawless. Fabio Audi (Gabriel) is just gorgeous and even more touching for his crush turned love for Leonardo. Tess Amorim is delightful and at times, a jealous green eyed monster as Giovana. And Ghilherme Lobo deserves awards for his portrayal as Leonardo – he is not blind in real life, his portrayal is so perfect I was convinced he was blind, it wasn’t until I added him on Facebook and Twitter did I discover he looks at the lens in photos – and manages a mean dance without assistance, for a character who cannot dance and is blind it is impressive to see in real life he is trained in ballet. For someone so young this is a career defining performance and if it was an American film he would be noticed and skyrocketed into Hollywood royalty.

 

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THE WAY HE LOOKS | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW FOR 2014 QUEER SCREEN FILM FESTIVAL | GABRIEL (FABIO AUDI) AND LEONARDO (GHILHERME LOBO) SHARE A KISS

 

THE WAY HE LOOKS has torn up on the awards front winning: Winner Teddy Award Berlin Film Festival | Winner FIPRESCI Prize Berlin Film Festival | Winner Audience Award Frameline San Francisco | Winner Audience Award Outfest Los Angeles | Winner Audience Award Newfest New York and if the Queer Screen is judging I can see another ribbon in its collection.

The movie has a beautiful charm and is basically flawless. It felt like a loving warm hug from someone you love. And the footage over the start of the credits had me crying it was so delightful. For the gay film genre – it is must see and borders close for to me a foreign A BEAUTIFUL THING (my favourite gay film). Sadly for you the film has sold out at the Queer Screen Film Festival but you can preorder it on DVD HERE.

 

4 and a Half Pops

 

 

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