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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Way He Looks [Blu-ray]

(aka "Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho" or "I Don't Want to Go Back Alone")


(Daniel Ribeiro, 2014)



Review by Eric Cotenas and Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Vitrine Filmes

Blu-ray: Strand Releasing



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:36:29.492

Disc Size: 48,722,583,815 bytes

Feature Size: 29,627,752,320 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.91 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 17th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video






DTS-HD Master Audio Portuguese 3498 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3498 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Descriptive Audio:

Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB



English, Spanish, none



• Deleted Scenes (14:20)

• Behind the Scenes (9:39)

• Interview with the Cast and Crew (26:06)

• Short film 'I Don't Want to Go Back Alone' (17:02)

• Theatrical Trailer (1:43)

• Trailers for 'Edge of Seventeen', 'Romeos', 'Lilting', and 'Girlhood'




The Film:

Although the plot is rife for clichè melodramatic incident and plenty of angst, yet THE WAY HE LOOKS - or TODAY, I DON'T WANT TO GO BACK ALONE - manages to be a simultaneously light-hearted and thoughtful in its exploration of the teenage wants and desires (love, sex, friendship, acceptance, freedom, fear) that tug the heart in all directions at the same time. Blind teenager Leonardo (Ghilherme Lobo) has come to resent his overprotective parents (Lúcia Romano and Eucir de Souza) and entertains ideas of escape, from a few hours wandering the city to the extreme of an exchange program anywhere where "no one knows who you are." He is even starting to grow weary of caretaking from his best friend and confidante Giovana (Tess Amorim) who the class bullies refer to as his "human walking stick" and guide dog. When handsome new student Gabriel (Fabio Audi) joins the class, Giovana is smitten and Leonardo maneuvers his best friend and her crush into an acquaintance. While at first it seems as though this triangular relationship will soon leave Leonardo on his own, it is Giovana who feels sidelined when the class is divided into pairs by sex for a semester-length assignment.

Although not a faraway place, Gabriel proves sufficiently different from the familiar for Leonardo to step outside of his safety zones; however, a thread of desire is weaving its way into this newfound friendship, and Leonardo is disturbed by it. Leonardo – like Giovana in his absence – lets his guard down with the class bullies as he tries to searches for acceptance, and soon equates Giovana's and Gabriel's individual attempts to protect him to be as controlling as his parents' vehement objections to the possibility of the foreign exchange program. When his parents relent to his going on the school's camping trip, the closeness of Leonardo and Gabriel falls under merciless scrutiny from their classmates, and jealousies and insecurities threaten to drive Leonardo, Gabriel, and Giovana apart as the nights devolve into a Bacchanalian morass of sex and alcohol.



Image:    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.


NOTE: The title is translated both as THE WAY HE LOOKS and the literal translation I DON'T WANT TO GO BACK ALONE. It changes to I DON'T WANT TO GO BACK ALONE (also the title of the short) before the ending credits.


Strand give us an impressive dual-layered 1080P transfer with a max'ed out bitrate. I can't imagine it looking any better than is exported by this BD. Colors are authentic, pastels rich, detail very pleasing and frequent depth is noted. It was hot on digital (Red Epic, Cooke S4 Lenses) and has the attributes of that process. The darker scenes (many later in the film) of the film show no noise or artifacts of any kind. I presume this, flawless, appearance is a strong replication of how the film was viewed theatrically.



















Audio & Music:

The original-language Portuguese DTS-HD Master 5.1 track is extremely robust at 3498 kbps. It easily handles all the film puts out. There is almost no aggression - mostly dialogue-driven although keen, subtle, sounds are used putting the viewer in mind of one who is blind - beyond touches and smells. There is no score per-se but we do have a snippet mixture of music in the film including David Bowie's Modern Love, Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker - Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy, Brahms and others. For a film with a blind protagonist, Strand has been thoughtful to also include an English-language descriptive audio track for the visually-impaired. Since the director is aware of the number of Spanish-speaking people living in the United States, he requested that the sales company allow the inclusion of an optional Spanish subtitle track for the film in addition to the English track. My Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.




The behind the scene segment is not so much informative as entertaining as the actors goof off, discuss only half-seriously some of their character's backgrounds (one actress' running joke throughout the featurette is actually a pointed observation of her character's sole function within the narrative), and demonstrate an easy-going chemistry with one another off camera. The deleted scenes are interspersed with comments from director Daniel Ribeiro who notes that he tries to be crystal clear with every plot point of the story in the script only to discover what was redundant in the first rough cut. Most of what is on view here are scene extensions - including one bit that casts the overbearing mother with a degree more depth - as well as a number of additional scenes with the grandmother character that are funny and sweet but became less suited as the tone of the film was refined.

Director Ribeiro, actors Lobo and Audi, and producer Diana Almeida appear in an English-language panel interview talk about the origins of the project and how they decided to do a short film version first to explore the idea. It proved successful enough at film festivals and on YouTube for them to mount a feature. Ribeiro talks about how films about the discovery of a character's sexuality are usually about sex and he wanted to do one that was more about love (a film that he would have wanted to watch as a teenager that provided a positive message), while the actors mainly talk about the energy and sense of collaboration on the set. The aformentioned short version "I Don't Want to Go Back Alone" features the same central trio of actors with a different supporting cast and locations. Although the short version is even more intimate in scope with a number of differences, it cannot help but feel rather abrupt in its plot developments after seeing the main feature.

The extras are rounded out by the film's theatrical trailer and trailers for four other Strand titles.




Bottom line: I can see why The Way he Looks is so lauded, even beyond its gay niche audience. The parallels are not heavy-handed and overplayed, although it is often less literal as well. It is really a sweet, compassionate story of maturity and awareness. It was Brazil's submission for the 2014 foreign-language Academy Award and it had me thinking of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly or, more aptly, Blue Is the Warmest Color. This is a beautiful film, visually and emotionally. The Strand Blu-ray offers an impressive presentation and we give a very strong recommendation. Great film choice and BD production, Strand!



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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