A warmly sentimental movie ideal for a light-hearted watch
Everybody has moments in their lives when they question whether things would have turned out differently if they had made a different choice. This is possibly what makes this tale, which analyses two parallel storylines simultaneously, so captivating.
Romantic comedy Look Both Ways tells the tale of a young animator named Natalie using the “two routes diverged in the yellow wood” premise. In addition to having her life figured out for the next five years, she knows precisely what she desires and when she wants it to come true for her.
Natalie wishes to settle in Los Angeles with her best friend after graduating from college. She seems to have a plan in place, beginning with her relocation to Los Angeles to establish herself as a creative animator. Given that it is their final night of college, she and Gabe participate in an act of spontaneity, which prompts Natalie to buy a pregnancy test while the graduation celebration rages outside. She is concerned about the results, as all of her aspirations depend on this crucial moment. If she becomes pregnant and decides to keep the child, she is aware that she’ll be unable to stick to her plan. The test results are negative, much to her relief… at least within the first timeline.
This story is narrated in a unique and slightly strange way. The two possible paths Natalie can take are introduced to us through timelines. One section focuses on her path after the test is negative while she proceeds with her plans as normal. The other timeline, deviates when Natalie receives a positive, forced to abandon her plans and reconfigure her life to make room for a child. However, a few key aspects remain constant in both timelines.
One of the most important things that the movie demonstrates through Natalie’s story is that life will take its very own route, no matter how well you prepare for it. Whatever route you take, everything tends to happen within its own time. This becomes evident towards the end of Natalie’s journey when we witness both her lives intersect at the same point.
You initially assume “Look Both Ways” will be more intense, however this takes a simpler route and pays little attention to Natalie’s moral dilemma about whether she should have the baby. It adheres to a clearer message instead.
The colour scheme of the movie is well-balanced, using earthy tones for LA and blues for Natalie’s small hometown. The hairstyle and clothing choices tend to generate a movement for the stories to eventually connect at the final crucial moment and show the audience precisely how far Natalie has come since the fateful night of the graduation ceremony when she was at a critical moment.
In stories where a character has a choice between different courses of action, we are often shown one course before moving on to another through a dream sequence or sometimes it’s shown in a way that suggests everything is merely a speculation. However, in this movie, we get to see two parallel stories unfold simultaneously; the story switches back and forth between the two as we watch.
The supporting cast of Look Both Ways is unfortunately weak, especially that of Natalie’s love interests. We never witness the difficulties of fatherhood at a rather young age, particularly for Gabe. The emphasis of the movie seems to be more on depicting him as a flawless man rather than giving him credit for his flaws and challenges. On a similar note, Natalie’s best friend has incomplete character development. All of this would have given the narrative more depth, but it merely raises the question of “what if”.
In Natalie’s scenario, the main conflict builds up well in the beginning but begins to fade out more and more towards the end, which diminishes the impact of the message.
Lili Reinhart is terrific as Natalie though. She does a brilliant job juggling her characters’ dual lives on her end. She gives the scenes of Natalie’s setbacks, screw-ups, and eventual acceptance of her destiny weight. Although she is charming for the majority of the movie, there are times when she is more annoying than charming.
Gabe, played by Danny Ramirez, is a likable character who is always cooperative and present for Natalie. There are no antagonists in her situation, except for when her parents first learn about her pregnancy, and even they eventually come around and support her decisions. In Natalie’s circumstances, conflict is typically started by herself. The storyline exemplifies how we are often our own worst enemies and don’t require outside interference to stir up trouble or chaos.
While the arcs are starkly different, Natalie’s emotional growth in the two narratives is pretty impressive. The developments are fascinating as they make them relatable to the audience, perhaps not necessarily in the specific details, but rather in the underlying themes of chasing dreams, overcoming perceived setbacks, and discovering your voice. Lilli Reinhart is remarkable in these areas, demonstrating humility and passion.
The core of Look Both Ways is ultimately in finding that ideal spot; a happy medium. It is a warmly sentimental movie that might soften your attitude on the idea that everything turns out for the best in the end.
Although the run-time is a little overlong, the plot is engaging even towards the end, owing to an inspiring and meaningful character journey. This one’s a warmly sentimental movie, ideal for a light-hearted watch and well worth checking out.
Verdict - 7.5/10