On the cusp of graduating from the University of Texas, two friends, Nat and Gabe, celebrate their impending future with a one-night stand. A few days later, and after feeling a little sick, Nat takes a pregnancy test to see if that one-night stand had any ramifications.
After waiting a couple of minutes for the test results to show, Nat discovers that much to her relief, she is not pregnant. Her life will move forward as planned, and she will begin to utilise the skills and knowledge she has picked up at uni, to forge her career.
However, at the exact same moment in time, in an alternate timeline, when Nat checks the test, she discovers that she is pregnant. In this version of events, Nat’s life is set to differ considerably, with her future plans now put in doubt.
As the film moves forward, Nat’s life diverges into two distinct timelines: One where she is pregnant, and one where she is not. These respective timelines explore different paths and different outcomes, with Nat embracing motherhood in one reality, and choosing a career in animation in the other.
Following in the footsteps of the 1998 British movie, Sliding Doors, Look Both Ways is a coming-of-age drama, built around a ‘what if?’ scenario. The film – directed by Wanuri Kahiu – stars Lili Reinhart, Danny Ramirez, and David Corenswet, and looks at the way in which life can turn on a dime considerably, depending on one moment in time.
In the case of Look Both Ways, this one moment in time is a pregnancy. The film presents this life changing moment as, well, a life changing moment, and allows the audience to see the outcomes of having or not having a child.
None of these outcomes are particularly negative by the way, so don’t think this is a film which views parenthood in a bad way; it merely uses pregnancy as a plot device. The film could have easily chosen something else as the catalyst for the story, but considering the character’s age, this seemed like a logical option.
As a driver for the story, pregnancy sure is a good one. I’ve never fathered a child myself, nor do I believe that children are in my future, but I often wonder what life would have been like had this been a reality, and I’m sure many people think this way too.
I also expect those who have children have occasionally wondered what life would be like the other way around. Would they have taken different opportunities, had they not become responsible for the little people in their lives?
So, in terms of its story, Look Both Ways has an interesting premise and one which is ripe for exploration. And for the most part, Look Both Ways does its best to cover plenty of ground, to show the ups and downs of life, irrespective of the choices made.
But is this the most ground-breaking or dynamic version of a ‘what if? scenario on screen? Well, no, I don’t believe it is – and this film is certainly not as interesting as the aforementioned Sliding Doors.
While Look Both Ways is decent enough, and I don’t want to throw too much shade at it, I do believe it could push itself a little more. Look Both Ways has the potential to be something very interesting with its premise, and yet it all feels a little underwhelming.
The main issue with Look Both Ways is that it lacks flair. I feel like this is a common occurrence with plenty of 2022’s movies, so apologies if I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but here we are again.
As with a number of new movies lately, Look Both Ways is perfectly watchable stuff, and that’s OK if perfectly watchable stuff is what you are after, but don’t expect to be wowed. There are no bold steps, unusual curve balls, or attempts at anything truly imaginative here; this film plays things very safe.
I won’t spoil the ending(s) to this movie, but if you sit down and watch it, you’ll know where everything is headed long before the film gets there. In fact, you’ll work it all out by the mid-point at the very latest.
On the bright side, the film benefits from the casting of Lili Reinhart, who proves to be more than capable of playing alternate versions of Nat. Her charm and likeability help to create a distinction between her two performances, and she works well for the movie.
There is also a nice bit of support from Andrea Savage and Luke Wilson as Nat’s parents, who pop up from time-to-time as background players. They don’t get to do much, but they do get to deliver the occasional humorous line, and this is always welcome.
As for everything else, as I have previously noted, this film is fine for what it is. There’s no need to pick it apart too much, because I don’t believe it does anything particularly wrong, it just doesn’t push itself enough and that is the only real sticking point.
Should you want to check it out, Look Both Ways is available to stream on Netflix from today. I’m not telling you to rush out and watch it, but it’s not going to bore you rigid or anger you if you do give it a go.
Essentially, the film is like a can of white emulsion paint. It does exactly what it says on the tin, and gets the job done, but don’t expect anything more.