The Way He Looks is Daniel Ribeiro’s first feature film. The movie started it’s life in 2010 as a well-received short, I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone, which told the story of a blind teenager who falls in love with a new student. That movie climaxed with one of the sweetest stolen kisses I’ve seen recently. I was glad to find out that Ribeiro was given the opportunity to expand the short into a full movie and that the movie is Brazil’s submission for Oscar consideration this year. That submission was probably one of the reasons it was picked up for distribution to US theaters for limited release.
I Don’t Want to Go Back Alone was a very simple budding romance story, and there was quite a bit that could have gone wrong in expanding it to 95 min. There needs to be complications at that length, and complications can ruin simple love stories beyond recognition. The movie actually highlights this issue in the opening scene. Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo) and his best friend, Giovana (Tess Amorim) laze by her pool and discuss whether they will ever be kissed. They both want their first kisses to be special – romantic, but without drama. Romance without complicating drama is how I’d describe the short, and I wondered what obstacles Ribeiro was going to throw out there to make it more difficult for Leo and Gabriel (Fabio Audi) to get together.