Oh, what a lovely little film! Brazil’s official submission for Best Foreign Language Film in the upcoming Oscars and a festival favorite over this past year, this is a charming teen drama bursting with a warmth and compassion unexpected in the genre… and most welcome. Leo (Ghilherme Lobo) is facing all the usual agita of adolescence, from wondering when he will get his first kiss to straining at the overprotectiveness of his loving parents, all of which is complicated — though less than you might imagine — by the fact that he has been blind since birth. But true drama only emerges when his close friendship with Giovana (Tess Amorim) is disrupted by the arrival at school of transferring student Gabriel (Fabio Audi): all the girls have their eye on the handsome newcomer, but he seems to have eyes only for Leo. Or is that only in Leo’s imagination? First-time writer and director Daniel Ribeiro (he is adapting his own short film) must find ways to transcend the tropes of romance with a protagonist who cannot gaze longingly at the object of his affection, and succeeds in ways that make us feel with fresh tenderness the sweet surprise of young love.
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