The Way He Looks: The Way We Should Always Look At Young Love


Walking into the Screening Room in downtown Kingston to attend a queer film festival, I had absolutely no expectations of what I was actually getting myself into. Passing the convenience store, I made my way upstairs to be greeted, once again, by the flamboyantly spirited executive director of Reelout, Matt Salton. My pixie cut and I made our way around the corner into Screening Room #1 where we were able to be pleasantly complimented by a group of eclectic, creative, inspiring and passionate individuals who seemed comfortable to sit themselves out of the societal norms usually seen around campus. For once, I felt as though my environment challenged me to embrace the diversity of people around me. Whether it was the person sitting behind me covered from head to toe in various piercings, the person sitting in front of me with bright pink hair, or even the twenty-some-year-old male wearing the most beautiful suede boots I’d ever seen, I knew I was immersed in a group of people that all shared a similar passion for gender, race and sexual diversity – and that felt really refreshing.


After the lights dimmed and we had seen a few previews for the other films being shown throughout the week, the title I’d be waiting for for weeks came up on the screen in great, big letters: The Way He Looks. This film follows the story of a young blind boy named Leonardo and his best friend Giovanna. Complications arise when they end up both falling for the new kid at school, Gabriel. Therefore, this film not only challenges the medical industrial complex of disability regarding eyesight but also examines its intersection with the discovery of ones queerness and the struggles with the social complex that this brings along.


This piece of art is able to effortlessly capture the mishaps and mistakes in cliché rom-coms in the most raw and unfiltered way I’ve ever come across in a form of media. It takes cheesy moments of eye contact and flirtation and revolutionizes them to actually show a realm of human emotion and connection. It is so well represented that I forgot the entire film was in Portuguese, accompanied with English subtitles; and that says quite a bit, seeing as I have never been able to get through a film with subtitles in my life! The characters were well developed and able to portray exceptional interpretations of love and self-discovery. I would have to argue that the chemistry between the two male-identified lovers would make even the most homophobic person in the world rethink their views on same-sex relationships. When the credits began to roll, one of my close friends turned to me and through teary eyes said, “I don’t understand how anyone living and breathing could ever think that there is something wrong with that.” I believe this to be the take-away and intent of this piece of art. It took seriously controversial approaches on ability, sexuality, friendship, family and growing up and turned them into relatable and touching elements of every day life.


I especially enjoyed how Gabriel and Leo used each other as means of discovery. For once, a queer film was able to depict the coming out of these two young men as a realization of love, rather than a realization of sexuality. Leonardo did not have to tell Giovanna that he was experiencing homosexuality, but merely that he was experiencing love. It was true and it was pure. It was not weighted with labels or heteronormative confusion. Giovanna was initially jealous, because she had made the assumption that Gabriel was interested in her. Yet, once she truly opened her eyes to the way Gabriel looked at Leo, she supported their love and valued their friendships once again. Similarly, at the beginning of the film, we see the group of cliché bullies making fun of Leo and Gabriel’s ‘bromance’, however, once the two of them express the true love in their relationship, the discriminatory barriers disintegrate and the bullies becomes powerless. All negative comments, whether they be about Leo’s disability to see, or his sexual preference towards Gabriel are no longer relevant. I think this is an extremely important message for youth coming out because it focuses on self-love and self-confidence.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of attending this film with my peers was the feeling of the audience’s journey; as if we ourselves were coming-of-age. From the moment that Gabriel entered Leo’s classroom on the first day and took the seat behind him, we became obsessed with this confusion of inner desire and adventure. Every moment the two boys would spend together alone, the audience would breathe in deeply in suspense that this might be the first time they realize there is something electric between them. By the time they ended up having their first real kiss, there was this beautiful, simultaneous sigh of relief in the room. It was as if I could feel the corners of everyone’s mouths stretching to the sidewalls of the theatre. It was at this moment that I realized the importance of live-art viewings. Even if the art you’re experiencing is pre-recorded, there is something emotionally invigorating about going on a journey with your fellow theatregoers. I would highly recommend viewing this film for yourself, even if it is in the comfort of your own bed because the elements of this story are enough to transport you elsewhere. It can be found online here –

– The Funky Phoenix


3 thoughts on “The Way He Looks: The Way We Should Always Look At Young Love

  1. Firstly I quite enjoyed you personal flavor in this blog. Such as, “my pixie cute and I made our way around the corner into screening room #1.” It made your blog personal, welcoming and intriguing. Much like everyone else, I felt like I shared the same experience with you. I enjoyed your description of the viewers around you and how different they were from you yet, the same because they shared the similar passion of gender, race and sexual diversity. Your summary was brief but it got to the point, and allowed me to get a great understanding of the movie.

    I enjoyed how you mentioned the great romance of the movie, and how it should be portrayed in every relationship. I haven’t seen this movie yet but after watching the trailer, and reading the summary, I would have to agree that the two main characters, Leonardo and Gabriel do look well developed and able to portray exceptional interpretations of love and self-discovery. I would also have to agree that letting everyone to see this immense romantic relationship would allow people to understand the power same-sex relationships hold. There is much controversy around the idea of same sex relationships, but I would have to agree with your friend that how could you see such a great love between two people and deny it, or think that there is something wrong with it. Love is love!

    I enjoyed your take on how Leonardo and Gabriel were not experiencing the realization of sexuality but instead experiencing the realization of love. It seems as though that sexuality didn’t come as a factor between these two, and their love was greater than anything, therefore nothing could come between them. I also agree with your statement on how this movie was an important message for youth coming out because it focuses on self-love and self-confidence. Society makes a big deal about people admitting to their gay. Some hide it because they are afraid to what others might think. But it seems that this movie shows it is okay to let your true light shine and be who you are no matter what anyone else says. For instance the idea of bullies commenting on Gabriel and Leonardo’s relationship at the beginning of the movie disintegrating at the end of the movie because Leonardo and Gabriel admitted to a love relationship. Letting society see this kind of mentality towards homosexual people may allow more people to be themselves and not be afraid to tell the world about their sexual orientation.

    It was a great blog! And after reading it I really want to see this movie!


  2. To begin, I like how before analysing the movie, you first mentioned societal norms in a relatable, real world example. That was a great idea!

    I also liked how you brought up the medical industrial complex, as it has such a large impact on those who are differently-abled. In fact, I find it very interesting how those who are considered able-bodied, those who do not face the same difficulties as those who are differently-abled, make decisions and set boundaries for those who experience these difficulties first hand. It results in decisions being made with little to no input from those who it truly does affect.

    I certainly agree that the fact of the controversial take on ability, sexuality, etc. truly does challenge societal norms and beliefs in a very affective way, making them very relatable.

    I found that you worded it perfectly when you said that Leonardo was able to express his love without attaching labels, and I think that this is an extremely important part of the movie. I find labels on sexuality to be ridiculous and restrictive, and that it furthers negative stereotypes. By this, I mean that if someone declares themselves as straight, then later declares themselves as bisexual and later as lesbian, one might say that this person was simply confused, ignoring the fact that sexuality is fluid. By being without labels, one could instead say that they like someone and that would be all. I believe that labels can be destructive in this way, and that it would be much more beneficial to classify love as simply that; love for a person, and not for a specific category of people.

    I found your perception of Giovanna’s reaction to Leonardo telling her that he loves Gabriel interesting; I saw it as Giovanna having difficulty accepting that Leo was interested in a guy, rather than her having difficulties dealing with jealousy. Perhaps it was a mix of both. I suppose that that is the beauty of films and art in general – the meaning is not directly laid out, but rather is up to personal interpretation. Regardless, you really made me see it in a different way.

    All in all, I very much enjoyed reading your blog post. It’s interesting to see the different perceptions of the same movie, and seeing the shared enjoyment. I certainly found it to be a fantastic movie, and I feel as if your summary made it better in that it summed up my feelings towards it in a way that I was unable to put into words myself.



  3. I really love your idea that this film “depicts the coming out of these two young men as a realization of love, rather than a realization of sexuality”. In terms of “love”, it seems more pure and sincere than “sexuality”, so it’s more close to the real adolescents – the only thing they realize should be the happiness and support they brought to each other. It seems that there is even no fear for Gabriel to maintain their relationship under such a peer pressure, so I guess the only thin he realize is that he fell in love with Leonardo and he will always love Leonardo.

    I also glad to see that all discriminations towards their relationships vanished as they expressed their true love. I believe it would be a great encouragement for all LGBTQ people, especially those in a community where only heterosexuality is regarded as the norm. As long as people become brave, all those obstalcle would be solved!

    I was impressed by the detailed description of your personal experience in Reelout Festival. You indicated the different reactions of audiences in different moments of the movie, that gives me an overall impression on how people’s emotions changed as plots went on during viewing. I even feel like I was there watching the movie together with you. 😊


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