The Way He looks ~ Movie review

The Way He Looks is a heart-warming film that explores the intersection of sexuality, gender, and ability. The main character Leonardo has been blind his entire life and has been subjected to harassment from the other students who see him as a lesser person because of his disability. The movie expertly shows the intersection of Leonardo’s blindness and his thoughts on his sexuality. Leonardo believes that, due to his blindness, nobody, especially not a girl would want to kiss him and subsequently love him as well. The question of “Who would want to kiss a blind man?” is left for the audience to think about as Leonardo continues on his usual routine until a new student named Gabriel appears. Gabriel is completely different from the other people in Leonardo’s life, as he treats Leonardo as if he wasn’t blind. Leonardo’s parents and best friend, Giovanna, treat Leo as if he were made a glass, making it as though his disability requires constant supervision. He is made to feel controlled and trapped, unable to enjoy growing up into a young adult because his parents don’t trust him to be alone. This shows the socialization of bodies, where disabled people are see as incompetent and need help in almost every aspect of their daily lives. Gabriel on the other hand invites Leo to watch a movie (and he would narrate what was happening), to sneak out to see an eclipse and offers to teach him to ride a bike. He treats Leo as an equal and is more than willing to accommodate for his lack of sight. In these moments, Leo’s thoughts on sexuality and love come back into play as he realizes that he might like Gabriel, as more than just a friend. It‘s interesting to note that Leo’s sexuality may be influenced by his blindness, as Leo can’t see the physical difference between a man and a woman. He seems more focused on a person’s actions and words thus Gabriel’s personal behavior is very attractive to him. The fact that Leo is gay changes nothing else about him and in the film; his homosexuality is subtlety revealed compared to his blindness I appreciate that they don’t make an event of it. Another wonderful aspect of the film is that the main characters, Giovanna, Leonardo and Gabriel, do not follow the typical societal norms for their gender. Hegemonic masculinity is prevalent in the school bullies; they are portrayed as macho, disrespectful and misogynistic as they like to assert power over others especially girls. The complete opposite can be said for Gabriel and Leo, as they never attempt to assert their power over others and Leo personally understands what it’s like for someone to have little control in their life. For the female characters Giovanna is the only young female who stands up for themselves against the guys, she also stands up for Leo when he is picked on. While the other secondary female characters display emphasized femininity, they seem to follow commands by men without refusal and they only are there in a scene to look pretty and get drunk. Overall, I love this film and felt it was a wonderful and simple representation of sexuality while incorporating the aspect of what define someone as disabled. Leo is such a likable character that you can’t do anything but hope that things work out for him; you want him and Giovanna to work out their friendship and you want Leo and Gabriel to realize the affection they have for each other. As a viewer you become invested in these characters and story, and movie puts on a smile on your face no matter what you felt coming into it

One key scene to me was when Leo and Gabriel sneak out to watch an eclipse. Of course Leo can’t see the eclipse, so Gabriel explains it using a rock diagram, carefully moving Leo’s hands around to feel what an eclipse is. The scene beautifully shows that just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy life. Gabriel breaks the stigma that most people associate with Leo (that he needs to be watched over because he’s blind); instead of limiting and controlling Leo’s actions, Gabriel encourages Leo to explore new things that he didn’t think he could do and Gabriel is there to explain and support him. This scene is also important, as later on in the movie Leo is able to use the eclipse as away to explain his friendship with Giovanna; even though there is something between them now – Gabriel – it with eventually disappear and they still will be able to be friends.

Attending the film festival was an amazing experience for me; it was great to interact with members of the Queer/LGBQT community and enjoy films that celebrated their lives and explored their troubles. The festival is an opportunity for Kingston as a whole to come together and support the LGBQT community. It is also a way to inform and teach the students of Queen’s University about gender and sexuality, which they will be able to spread to their families and friends back home.

~secretlybatman

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8 thoughts on “The Way He looks ~ Movie review

  1. Great review. I saw this film as well and really appreciated some of the things you touched on. I too agree how it was great that the producers did not make a big show about him being gay, and rather treated it the way anyone would treat a heterosexual couple. Furthermore, I also love the way you stated that Gabriel encouraged Leo to explore new things, where as everyone else limited and controlled his exploration. That was very well put. However, I did not understand how the film was a “simple representation” of sexuality where as I believe sexuality to be a complex topic. -rayofsunshine

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    1. Thanks for nice review. I glad you saw the film and were able to see the normal aspect of homosexual relationships as I felt is was a major component of the film and reason why it was so good. I found Gabriel such an great character for the reason he is encouraging Leo instead of following the societal belief of disabled people and controlling them. I guess “simple” was not the best word choice, but a movie can only go into so much depth and detail before it becomes watered down and I felt this movie explored sexuality without needing to say much detail because the actions spoke for it instead.
      -secretlybatman

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  2. I also watched the film, and before even reading your blog mentioned the same thing about Leo’s sexuality not being a big event. I loved the normalization of that in the film. I love how you touched on the intersection of Leo’s sexuality and ability in the sense that he may not be able to really physically differentiate between men and women in that sense. That brought a new perspective to me that I hadn’t quite thought of but is really thought provoking. It makes me think to what level does physical appearance effect one’s sexuality. Great review! 🙂 – NoSpeakAfricano

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    1. I think the movie did a good job of showcasing the normalization of Leo’s sexuality if we both were thinking about it. I glad to hear that you have a new perspective on sexuality and ability because I found myself wondering before I watched the movie how his blindness would come into play. After I had watched the film I truly believe Leo’s sexuality was influenced by his blindness. I too want to know the level of which physical appearance effects sexuality. Thanks for the nice review.
      -secretlybatman

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  3. I really liked this review because you also brought up the issue of a disabled person as well as sexuality. These two issues are important because they are issues of two different kinds of groups who are actually quite alike seeing as how they are both discriminated against and even bullied. This film interests me because it mixes both of these aspects into a character who seems interesting in his way of dealing with his issues. I also like how you brought up hegemonic masculinity and emphasized femininity and used examples form the movie to explain what they are. Overall, great review. I hope to see this movie in the future!
    -mejicanluis

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    1. Thanks for the review. I strongly agree that disability and sexuality are very similar issues and neither group is treated/ portrayed properly in the media. I thought Leo was a unique main character because of his disability and how he overcome his problems. Hegemonic masculinity and emphasized femininity may have not been obvious in the film but it made a strong impact on the characters. I hope you get to see this movie too!
      -secretlybatman

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  4. Great review! I definitely wanted to check out this film when we were first shown the trailer in class because I found that it explored intersections of identities well. More often than not we see films that follow heterosexual relationships which further contribute to what society has come to define as the “norm” while inadvertently labeling any differing sexuality as the deviant, so when we are exposed to plot lines and films that include characters that stray away from this we tend to be required to think and analyze concepts much more closely. With this film, we see a young male who is trying to understand himself in terms of more than just his sexuality, but that in tandem with his disability. Ableism is something that we do not generally see addressed in films the way that it had been in this one, so it was interesting to see and understand just how much varying parts of the main character’s life were affected due to the intersecting oppressions he faced.

    – masalaCHICKen

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    1. Thanks for the nice review. If you get a chance later definitely check out the film. I agree that the film did a good job of exploring intersections like gender, sexuality and ability. I feel ableism should be addressed more in films today in a respectable manor that doesn’t make the disabled person seem less than everybody. I think the film was so interesting and good because it addressed many intersecting oppressions many people face.
      -secretlybatman

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