Look Both Ways, a film by Wanuri Kahiu, hinges on possibility, both literal and figurative. Look Both Ways was released on Netflix on August 17, 2022 and starred Lili Reinhart, Danny Ramirez, Aisha Dee, David Corenswet, Luke Wilson and Andrea Savage in pivotal roles.
According to the official synopsis of Look Both Ways on Netflix:
“The night before she graduates from college, Natalie’s life splits into two different scenarios: one where she gets pregnant and stays in her hometown, and the other where she doesn’t get pregnant and moves to Los Angeles. On both trips, Natalie rediscovers herself, pursues her ideal career as an artist, and meets the love that changes her life.”
Natalie is a 22-year-old college student about to graduate, and is portrayed by blonde, blue-eyed Reinhart. She’s an animation student and, like everyone else around her, has a five-year plan. Nat, as they all affectionately call her, dreams of one day owning a production company and producing animated films. Your goals need a stage that Los Angeles offers.
Alternate reality is used in Look Both Ways to tell Nat’s story
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Imagine being able to see both the life you had planned and the life you never imagined.
A woman is at the center of two stories starring Lili Reinhart. August 17 marks the debut of Look Both Ways. 8054 993
To show us what happens in two scenarios, Kahiu introduces a parallel or alternate reality.
In the first, Nat decides to keep the child after discovering she is pregnant after having a sexual relationship with her friend Gabe (played by Ramirez). After a negative pregnancy test, Nat moves to Los Angeles with her friend Cara (played by Dee) to pursue a career in animation. This second scenario seems more promising.
Director Kahiu ensures a smooth transition from the point where the plot splits into two directions (or tracks). Plot points and time jumps are driven by graphic drawings, beginning with Nat’s fascination with animation.
For example, the middle of a page with the scrawled “Five Year Plan” is torn out to make room for the alternative “Five Year Plan for Motherhood.” Kahiu uses three doodles to portray an adolescent Rosie (Nat and Gabe’s daughter) rather than switching between scenes to do so.
Without using scientific jargon or the term “upside down”, Kahiu develops a novel method to represent another dimension.
In Parallel Universe 2, Nat falls in love with her colleague Jake (played by Corenswet) and takes a job working for her hero, while in Parallel Universe 1 Nat and Gabe are busy learning the basics of motherhood. One scene is not portrayed as reality and the other as a dream in the almost two-hour film. Both exist in reality. They just encounter life’s challenges at different times.
Look Both Ways does a fantastic job of capturing this through the fear that social media brings into people’s lives.
As Nat, who is expecting, scrolls through her Instagram and sees her friends starting new careers and living a life she once desired, she initially feels lost. Nat, in parallel, continues to live the ideal life, ending up in a romance and getting a job, only to find that it’s not all. In the drama-comedy, both worlds advance until they reach a stopping point.
From there they start rebuilding.
The plot of Look Both Ways is determined by colors, clothes, hair, music and weather
Look Both Ways stars Lili Reinhart and Aisha Dee. (Photo by Twitter – @netflix)
Look Both Ways stars Lili Reinhart and Aisha Dee (photo via Twitter – @netflix)
The colors, clothing, hairstyles, music and weather are mainly used to maintain the transition between the two nats.
As tensions mount over Gabe’s drumming and people party harder by the minute, the pregnancy-related build-up prompts a new attempt to defuse the situation. LA-based Nat features shorts, tie-dyed tops and dresses in vibrant designs, long hair and, to top it all off, a backdrop of the California sun.
Nat, who is currently pregnant and has recently returned to her parents after her plans took a detour, has everything blue including curtains, sheets and dumbbells. Her hair is trimmed to her ears and she wears plaid shorts and solid color blouses.
Kudos to cinematographer Alan Caudillo for capturing the emotions of the protagonists and the situations they find themselves in.
Characters in Look Both Ways are humanized
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So thrilled to be working with the incredible @lilireinhart and @DavidCorenswet on a film that honors women and ALL their POSSIBILITIES! “I’m for your choice,” says Gab (@DannyRamirez)! 256 74 #LookBothWays @NetflixFilm
The last 30 minutes define Look Both Ways. After their recovery, both Nats were able to achieve their goals both emotionally and professionally five years later.
Motherhood is not shown as a barrier to getting a job in Look Both Ways. Nor does it glorify the idea of a successful, independent woman. Therefore, Kahiu considers the social expectations of a random 22-year-old college grad when a pregnant Nat confides in her mother that she has no life left because she doesn’t draw or visit her friends.
Whether a recently unemployed Nat is attending her friend’s baby shower or stumbles upon an Instagram photo of a newlywed Gabe, Look Both Ways depicts the worries that come with life not being found out. Reinhart is convincing in her portrayal of Natalie in both areas. Both her portrayal of a mother and her attitude as a single woman are successful.
The likeable male characters by the author April Prosser turn out to be ideal feminist supporters. Gabe is visibly shaken when Nat tells him she’s pregnant, but he continues, “I’m for your choice.” Both Prosser and Kahiu bring human traits to their supporting characters.
For example, when Nat tells her parents that she is pregnant, they express concern that the development would affect their plans to enjoy their lives and Nat’s future. However, it would have been interesting to witness the parent-daughter interaction from different angles.
Look Both Ways also discusses such fleeting wake-up calls to reality. For example, in the parallel universe, when Nat searches for employment in LA, she discovers that any position is unpaid and states that “you have to be wealthy to be an artist.”
There is no weighing of options in Kahiu’s novel Look Both Ways. Instead, it aims to disprove the adage popularized by Benjamin Franklin, “If you don’t plan, you plan to fail.”