The Way He Used To Look Was Better: a note on Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho

Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho
Directed by Daniel Ribeiro
Brazil, 2014

I’d love to say that this feature-length adaptation reboot of a charming and wildly popular Brazilian short (3.5 million+ views on YouTube) is every bit as good as the original. Unfortunately, writer/director Daniel Ribeiro is unable to structure a natural narrative out of the same material, or maybe the economy of the form concealed his shortcomings in the 17-minute Eu Não Quero Morrer Hoje.

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Leonardo is a blind high school student strafing under his parents’ over-protectiveness. His best friend Giovana is in love with him, but when a new kid comes to town, curly-haired Gabriel, Leo realizes why he’s never been interested in girls before.

There are a couple of effective and well-written scenes between the two young male leads (no longer looking like high-school students, it has to be said, as they did in the short) as Gabriel learns to stop using verbs that refer to sight. In one, he explains what an eclipse is to Leo and in another, describes to him the movie they’re watching in a cinema. For every other scene, however, every single plot movement and character beat is spelled out word by word in strained and awkward dialogue. It’s as if Ribeiro denied his characters their interior lives. As a result, the few scenes that attempt some stylistic expression — Leo laid out on his bed in his underwear smelling Gabriel’s hoody; the opening overhead shot of Giovana and Leo talking (and talking some more) at poolside — look like they’re in an entirely different, more careful and artful movie.

The eventual kiss, although set up for us like a car slowly waiting in a 50-car toll-booth queue, is the only thing that’s better and sexier in the feature than it was in the short. But then again, seeing young dudes kiss always breaks my heart.

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November 13, 2014 12:11 PM

The actors in the feature were 4 years older than when the short was filmed. This is not really a film about sex, if that is what you are looking for. The tension between Leo and parents was fleshed out very well. I like Leo’s parents and grandmother. Great coming of age movie,

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