Review: Look Both Ways is a Lukewarm Feel-Good Film

Everyone experiences moments in life when they wonder if they had made a different decision, which is perhaps what makes the fiction that explore such a narrative so alluring. With this “two paths parted in the yellow wood” method, Netflix’s “Look Both Ways” depicts the tale of a young animator named Natalie. She has her life planned out for the next five years, knowing exactly what she wants and when she wants it to happen. We witness the division of her life after an impromptu night with her friend Gabe prompts her to test positive for pregnancy while the graduation celebration rages outside. When the test is negative and she can proceed with her plans, one section of the story focuses on her journey. In the alternate universe, the test is positive, forcing her to abandon her goals and drastically reorganise her life to make room for a kid.

You initially believe “Look Both Ways” will be more serious than you had anticipated because of its intriguing theme. The movie teeters on the edge of exploring the struggle surrounding choice, especially given that it is set in Austin, Texas, in the United States after Roe v. Wade has been overturned. An unforeseen pregnancy threatens Natalie’s best-laid plans. The movie, however, takes a simpler route and pays little attention to Natalie’s quandary about whether she should wait to become a mother. Instead, it keeps to a more straightforward theme that Vienna by Billy Joel could perfectly support.

The film, which was directed by Wanuri Kahiu, begins by establishing a clear distinction between the two timelines that flow in and out of one another. In the first quarter, when Natalie is struggling both with and without motherhood, the novel maintains a genuine tone. Parenting may not be easy, but pursuing your dreams in Los Angeles is not easy either. Surprisingly, the movie does a better job of capturing Natalie’s suffering as a childless woman. Regarding its parallel arc, some really fundamental inquiries begin to surface regarding the challenges of being a parent. For example, how, in the absence of legitimate employment and any discernible financial strain, are the two 22-year-olds taking care of a child as well as themselves? Such things further rip the fabric of this reality, which ultimately diminishes its gravity.

In a similar spirit, “Look Both Ways” also fails to do its supporting cast justice. When a little more nuance could have added so much more to the plot, Natalie’s love interests are reduced to little more than that. Particularly with Gabe, we never witness the hardship of fatherhood at such a young age. The movie appears more interested in portraying him as this flawless man, failing to give him credit for his legitimate shortcomings and challenges. The character of Natalie’s best buddy is similarly unfinished. All of this could have given the plot additional depth, but it is merely a hypothetical possibility.

In Natalie’s case, the main conflict builds up well in the beginning but fades away in the end, which lessens the power of the message. Lili Reinhart does an excellent job of juggling her character’s dual life on her end. She gives the moments of Natalie’s disappointments, failures, and final acceptance of her fate weight. Warm colours for LA and blue ones for Natalie’s hometown balance out the film’s aesthetic. In order to create a flow for the stories to eventually converge to that final moment and give the audience a full picture of how far Natalie has come from the point where she was at a crossroads that night of the graduation party, the remaining distinction is made by the hairstyle and the manner of dressing.

The heart of “Look Both Ways” is in the proper place. It is a lukewarmly sentimental film that might soften your outlook on the idea that everything turns out for the best in the end, but it won’t fully change it. It might have been lot worse than it actually was. It may have gone in a different direction and turned out differently. But taking all of that into consideration actually gives the movie’s message greater support. Even if you imagine a thousand different scenarios, your life will nonetheless go according to its own course, thwarting all carefully set plans. Therefore, “Look Both Ways” proves that the other option is “just as fair,” even with a little lax implementation.