Look Both Ways (Review): There are two sides to each story, two perspectives in most cases, and two probable paths to choose from. This pops up at any stage. At every moment, one is on the verge of encountering a crossroads as they seek to accomplish their Best Laid Plans (not the Sidney Sheldon novel). It is in that moment that each individual choice becomes oh so crucial. Both paths provide an adventurous experience filled with joy, regret, and eventual acceptance. It is the reality of the situation as no road is a bed of roses. However, a choice must be made, as it is better to embark on either path rather than remain motionless in the middle.
Netflix’s Look Both Ways serves as a reminder for everyone to make a choice and accept the realities of said choice. This film could help dispel the common query, i.e. What If?
Dreams can become nightmares and the acceptance of nightmares as realities can result in that scenario eventually turning into a dream. Does failing to plan really mean that one has planned to fail? Or does the plan mean that one has restricted the option of where they will go?
What’s Netflix’s Look Both Ways about?
Look Both Ways focuses on Natalie, who makes love to her boyfriend Gabe a month before the end of college. On the eve of the beginning of her life after education, she begins throwing up during the celebration party. As Natalie sits and awaits the results of her pregnancy tests, she morphs into two. In one reality (pink), she lives her dream life in Los Angeles after the test comes out negative. In the other reality (blue), she goes through the motions of being a pregnant 22-year-old at her parents’ house in Texas.
The Netflix Original film merges both stories, giving audiences the opportunity to witness both sides of her impending future. This creative decision reminded me of Jeffrey Archer’s Heads You Win, which offered dual perspectives of one family fleeing to the USA and England. Unlike that novel, this 110-minute Wanuri Kahiu directorial offers quicker transitions from life in Texas to life in Los Angeles. After ‘Looking Both Ways’, what’s really different?
What’s Good about Look Both Ways on Netflix?
I loved the seamless merging of both potential realities right from the start. From the celebration of having a negative test, a camera pan showcases Natalie’s other potential reality as well. The same holds when the college students bid farewell to one another as they empty their dorm rooms and drive away to the future; and their past.
This particular scene was confusing, with the audience solely relying on Natalie’s facial expressions to glean the context of which perspective was on screen. Her cars going in different directions was a novel touch, which was beautifully edited by Brad Leach.
Reinhart’s acting carries this film as her conflicting emotions successfully permit this Netflix Original to succeed in its aim. The costume team’s creativity, or rather, uniformity, also aided the audience in spotting transitions from ‘The Lone Star State’ to ‘The Golden State’. Writer April Prosser’s script ensured Lili Reinhart’s character never became a wannabe who lost touch with her true identity. In Look Both Ways, the outfits weren’t glamorous for Natalie’s time in LA, which was an apt representation of an aspiring artist.
Finally, the film’s balanced take on both perspectives doesn’t glorify one side or dismiss the other. By not nudging the audience toward one particular perspective, it remains true to its own mission statement, i.e. getting people to Look Both Ways.
What’s Not Good About Look Both Ways on Netflix?
If one is a regular consumer of rom coms, they would have an idea of the established genre template. Look Both Ways provides that in both storylines which made things seem predictable. In not pushing one path over the other, and keeping in mind the transitions, you knew what was coming next; that return home, that ugly break-up, that rough patch, and the eventual…
It’s a pattern of this genre and the eventual realization could be aptly described by the following lyrics.
“If you could see that I’m the one
Who understands you
Been here all along
So, why can’t you see?
You belong with me”
Nothing against Swift’s words. It’s just how it plays out with the ebbs and flows of rom-coms. The classification of comedy is also questionable, as it seemed absent throughout Look Both Ways.
The characters’ journeys may seem relatable, but the ones on the screen don’t compel audiences to like them. Was that supposed to represent the realities of adults fresh out of college? Perhaps, but for a film, it was a letdown, as only Natalie’s parents seemed to gel together and they hardly had any screen time.
I wasn’t emotionally invested in Gabe, Cara, or Jake. While Lili Reinhart had some focus on her to help the audience spot what she brought to the film, Danny Ramirez, Aisha Dee, and David Corenswet didn’t. It felt as though they were only looking one way, i.e. Away from Look Both Ways.
Finally, the lack of choices presented to Natalie, or the fact that she didn’t think of another route in one pathway, may be problematic to some audiences. Yes, it was her choice, but not actively ‘Looking That Way’ could put off some.
Look Both Ways– Verdict
With dialogues that strike a chord, and, for a generation where the grass is always greener, Look Both Ways is an enlightening watch. Formulaic rom-com fans may not want to miss this, but it isn’t something that will attract people in droves. This could be unfortunate, as the film’s choices are unique and its messages are essential.
Is it a spectacular film? It’s not unmissable, but it can be identified as a good and uplifting one-time watch.
Look Both Ways is streaming on Netflix.