Let’s be honest, Netflix original films are hit or a miss or worse – completely forgettable. Look Both Ways, directed by Wanuri Kahiu, is the newest film to make noise on the streaming service, and while it’s not life-changing, it is a fun time.
The film stars (and is executive produced by) Lili Reinhart, who plays Natalie, a college student on the eve of her graduation who decides to hook up with her classmate/friend Gabe (Danny Ramirez) and, despite taking protective measures, has a pregnancy scare. We step into a multiverse of sorts during this titular moment before she finds out whether or not she’s pregnant. There’s one Natalie, who is pregnant and committed to having the baby—essentially scraping away her five-year plan of becoming a bigshot animator in Los Angelos and the other Natalie, who isn’t expecting and has no worries except for finding a job when she moves to LA with her best friend Cara (Aisha Dee).
The parallel timelines are easy to tell apart. The timeline where Natalie follows through with the pregnancy is given this blue undertone indicating a more severe and cold reality of being a young mom while simultaneously trying to balance family life and a career. The other timeline where Natalie is pursuing her animation career in LA has a warm/golden colouring, which suggests a more carefree and joyous timeline. This brilliant colouring tactic was also used in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women.
Look Both Ways isn’t meant to be a feminist piece or even an ode to motherhood, but it does, in its particular way, capture the nuances of a young woman facing a life-altering choice. The struggles of being a mom and that feeling of being a stranger to your own body when pregnant. “You mourn the person that you used to be… because no matter how much you wanna be a mom, you’re never not going to be one again,” Tina (Andrea Savage) says. Natalie’s mom wasn’t jumping at the idea of her daughter being pregnant right after college, but Tina slowly comes around and starts to support Natalie through this drastic lifestyle change. A support system is fundamental to anyone birthing/raising a child, and Natalie is privileged to have her parents and baby father in her corner.
The version of Natalie that gets to live out her dream in a new city is hit with the reality of job hunting on Indeed until she meets a mystery man at a party, a.k.a. Jake (David Corenswet), who helps her in ways she didn’t expect. This reality doesn’t come without its own struggles, namely receiving tough love (emphasis on tough) from her boss and successful animator, Lucy Galloway (Nia Long).
Look Both Ways asks the simple question of what if? What if you apply for the job despite not meeting all the qualifications? What if you abandon your fear and doubts and just follow your heart? Questions like these lead to the big decisions that could ultimately change the trajectory of your life but regardless of what you choose, you will always end up where you were meant to be.
Look Both Ways is now streaming everywhere on Netlfix.
by Kadija Osman
Kadija Osman is based in Toronto, Ontario and is currently completing her undergrad in journalism at Ryerson University. She enjoys writing about film and TV. When she isn’t watching Timothée Chalamet’s filmography, she is probably reading romance and thriller novels or ranting about the disappointing cancellation of E!’s The Royals. Her favourite films include Kingsman: The Secret Service, Lady Bird and Ready or Not. You can find her on Twitter: @kadijaosman_ and Letterboxd.