This is a really fine film that is unusual in several gratifying ways. It is actually a story about the blossoming of a good and growing friendship into a physical as well as emotional love affair and is, in a sense, only gay because the two people involved are both late teenaged boys - fortunately for the viewer one aspect of gayness is attended to in that they are two quite handsome and adorable boys. However, the film, as the director says in a section of the bonus features, is about love and not lust, so the boys are beautiful but not fashion models. The relationship is not bracketed and set off as unique because the two people falling in love are both boys hence queer, hence troubled, hence afflicted and miserable through stress and fears of ostracism.. Rather, and in this it parallels the also excellent film Silent Youth, it is an exploration of how two unusual people fall in love, but is a tale told with the underlying assumption that there are fundamental, human similarities between this story and a lot of other types of love stories as well as. of course, also some interesting and unique aspects to the events recounted in the film. In this it perhaps reflects the growing realization by non-gay people (thank you 40 years of gay film makers, activists, etc.) that the preference for same sex plumbing doesn't make the characters freakish, doomed, or self destructive. The homosexual and gay dimensions of Leo and Gabriel's friendship aren't really an issue for anybody in the film but the poor, oafish chief bully from their school who picks on Leo and Gabriel throughout the film. Finding love is a quest for the characters, and that is symbolized by the search for an appropriate first kiss. But to add crispness and focus to the plot one boy is unusual because he is blind and blind from birth.
Hence the question of what is involved by two boys falling in love and of what it means if one of them has absolutely no idea what anything, let alone a drop dead gorgeous best friend, looks like is important. Leonardo falls for Gabriel because Gabriel is a loving, attentive, and nurturing friend who helps Leonardo cope with his increasing frustration at the limitations his doting but overprotective parents place on him and the conflicts he has with the school bullies, etc. And, Gabriel is also a friend who clearly likes just hanging out with Leo. There some quite fine scenes where the camera observes Gabriel staring happily at Leonardo, who, as he is blind, has no idea that Gabriel is doing this. There is real pleasure in the eloquence and humor of the scene where one of Gabriel's earliest attempts to help his friend involves teaching him the rudiments of dancing.
There are many other things to like, admire, and enjoy about this film; one of them is that, unlike many coming out films, the burgeoning relationship between the two boys is extensively depicted by scenes of their interaction that don't include a great deal of drama about the sociopolitical, personal, and psychological difficulties of coming out as gay. Mostly Leonardo and Gabriel are just two teenagers sometimes awkwardly, but always persistently, trying to get to know each other. And they spend a fair bit of time being happy together. While there is a set of oafish bullies they are annoying and humiliating school bullies, but not homicidal maniacs. Further,,a life of being gay suggested to me, and may suggest to others that the chief bully wouldn't mind having his way with Leonardo, but is too confused. repressed and dimwitted to even realize what his motivations are about.
The film seems to me to be carefully crafted. In the bonus feature of the really fine original short film there is a scene where the blind Leonardo thinks he is talking to one character but is actually talking to another. The fact that Leonardo is falling for Gabriel is revealed by the fact that when he thinks he is alone he inhales deeply the odors of Gabriel's sweatshirt. So, when Leonardo is approached by the person who very much isn't who Leonardo thinks he is talking with, one could have wondered why he didn't recognize that the smell of the person before him wasn't the smell of the person who he thought he was talking to - but Ribiero had included a brief and immediately previous scene indicating that poor Leonardo has allergies that day so probably couldn't smell anything at all.
The bonus features are quite pleasing. Ribiero crafts his scenes carefully hence the short film is as well put together as a good short story and every element contributes to the unfolding of the story and the final scene. The longer film is more like a novella and equally well crafted. All three of the central characters are played by quite gifted actors who clearly have acting chemistry and who create characters that aren't merely likeable, but are fully three dimensional believable human beings. An example might be the shower scene where Gabriel finally sees Leo totally naked and is made biologically aware that he finds Leo very much to his tastes. Fabio Audi makes the character Gabriel's distressing realization that he is in a public shower displaying clear evidence of strongly and definitely liking Leonardo in a lot of ways both touching, funny, and refreshingly free of any twee overtones that with a less committed actor, could have crept in. Perhaps unfortunately, a really pleasing prefiguration of this shower scene occurs earlier in the film when Leonardo asks his grandmother what Gabriel looks like and she says that he is so pale that he is almost transparent. This scene had been cut, according to the director, for reasons of pacing.. However, here Gabriel's activities make his inner life "transparent" or visible to the audience. But, as Ribiero points out in a bonus feature, he decided to remove it for reasons of pacing. Fun to see, in all events. Ghileherme Lobo is quite amazing as Leonardo. He is so convincingly "blind" that almost everyone that I know thought he was a blind guy who was a great actor. But he is a sighted guy who is a fine actor. The level of skills demonstrated by the three main characters and by most of the supporting characters is quite high.
I liked the film so much that I bought the DVD, and probably many people will make the same choice.