Falling In Love (Movie Thoughts: Jongen/The Way He Looks)

Over the weekend, I saw two films that perfectly capture falling in love. They are also two films about first love. And, they are also films about gay teens falling in love. But this is 2015, and gay love isn’t the love that dare not speak its name anymore. For the youth of today, same sex attraction is so matter of fact that none of these characters even blink at the thought.

Daniel Ribiero’s “The Way He Looks” is set in Portugal, about Leo, a blind adolescent (Ghilerme Lobo) who spends his waking time with his best friend Giovana (Tess Amorim) until a new boy in school arrives, Gabriel (Fabio Audi) When Leo and Gabriel start spending time together, an awakening happens in Leo: he finds himself falling in love with Gabriel. But then Leo finds that Karina, a fellow classmate, is aggressively pursuing Gabriel, and is Gabriel interested in reciprocating, Leo wonders. I think the best thing in the storyline is the fact that the story shows love is not blind. Love is when two souls connect. In this case, we canno argue that infatuation is just physical lust. Leo is not sighted after all – it’s his emotional connection with Gabriel that trumps whatever he has with Giovana.

More or less the same emotional conflict is seen in Jongens, a Dutch movie by Mischa Kamp. Sieger gets promoted on his running team, pairing him off with Marc (Ko Zandvliet) and we instantly see an attraction. But even as things heat up between them, and they first kiss, Sieg is still conflicted with his orientation, telling Marc that he is not gay. To prove to himself, Sieg starts dating a young lady, only to see what is inevitable, something hsi best friend realizes and shrugs about.

Jongens is a nice sweet story (I read that this was originally made for Dutch television) and addresses gay teen love matter-of-factly. As a matter of fact, no coming out happens, here, people just assume, and see, and accept, as if its no big deal to have these teenagers accept their orientations, and move on.

In both films, when the young women accept the fact that these teens are gays, the conflict revolves more about heartbreak, and homophobia is never present. They become more matters of the heart, not politics. I would like to believe that this is how teens look at life nowadays, and I realize how far we have gone since I have been a teenager myself. While, yes, on that level I see that things are easier for them, on some level, heartbreaks are the same. They still fall in love, they still have their hearts broken. And that is the essence of life.

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