Review by Dan Skip Allen
Many Americans overlook Australian films, but in the past, Australia has developed some pretty good movies that have transcended expectations, like The Square, Animal Kingdom, and The Rover, and become hits over here in the states. I don't think Into the Deep will become one of those films Americans will devour and talk about.
One of Jess's (Ella-Rae Smith) parents died in a tragic car accident a few years before the events of this film. She is just trying to forget that incident, but she can't. She still lives with her father, but they have a strained relationship. She passes her time working at a clothing shop with her friend Emi (Nikktta Chadha) and going out to a beach bonfire to dance and drink the night away. When she sees a man who perks into the shop and proceeds to walk away, she chases after him and introduces herself to him. He does the same and says his name is Ben (Matthew Daddario) and accepts her invitation.
After an incident with a fellow party-goer, Daddario's character decides to take Smith's character on a tour of his boat on the wharf. She is a bit taken back because of her previous history of her mother's drowning. She reluctantly agrees to come aboard the boat and enjoys her time with this mysterious stranger. She passes out due to too much alcohol, and when she wakes up, they are completely out to sea. While out at sea, a woman rides up to the boat on a jet ski. She's cut, and they try to attend to her head wound. However, there may be more to this woman's story than it seems.
This film tries to be a movie with a mystery thriller vibe. Kate Cox, the director, creates an interesting vibe based on David Beton's script. The camera work in the film is a little in your face, but it looks very good on screen. A lot of filmmakers like close-up shots, but they more than often don't work as much. This film has quite a few close-up shots, and they look good combined with the rest of the camera work. The cinematography is colorful and combines well with the other things the director does. It's one of the better aspects of the film.
There is a disconnect between the script and the dialogue the actors utter in the film. It seems a bit robotic coming from the three leads. They do the best they can, though. It's a bit tough to listen to for about forty-five minutes of this ninety-one-minute runtime. Not having heard of these actors before, all I can think of is this is one of, if not the first, films they've starred in. It was easy to tell they were newcomers.
The film has a lot of deceit and lies that it asks the viewer to believe but hasn't given us the verification that it deserves to get our investment in these characters. I didn't care about what was happening, even when the characters started explaining their motivations. The lead actress just wasn't good enough in this role, and I wished I liked her more. Most of these characters were unlikeable. I know that's a harsh assessment, but I didn't care about any of the lead characters on the boat.
Cox and Benton have developed a film that has some merits to it. They just cast actors who can't deliver on what, at first glance, is a quality idea. It wasn't executed to the level it needed for this film to succeed. The dialogue came across as delivered by a robot, and this good idea is wasted. In a world of men and women who do questionable things while drinking and doing drugs, this film could have had a good message that merited this film. We need these types of films to let people know about these types of predators that are out there everywhere. Alas, it didn't work for me.
Into the Deep hits theaters and VOD on August 26.
Review by Sean Boelman
Audiences may not recognize the name Owen Kline off the top of their heads, but they might recognize his most famous role, as the younger brother of Jesse Eisenberg in The Squid and the Whale. Now, Kline is making his directorial debut with the grimy coming-of-age film Funny Pages, which owes a lot to its influences but is uncomfortably funny regardless.
The movie follows a teenage cartoonist who drops out of school and rejects his comfortable suburban life in a search for “soul.” Although the film does hit some of the common beats of what it means to grow up, the movie shares more in common with the cringe comedies of filmmakers like Todd Solondz than the typical coming-of-age movie.
For the first forty minutes of the film, we watch as the protagonist seeks independence and creative expression on his own terms. The third act goes off the rails and becomes entirely chaotic. Although this is going to put some viewers off, it’s very funny and takes the characters in a very interesting direction.
Kline obviously has a love of underground comix, leading the movie to feel a bit reminiscent of other underground comix-centric films like American Splendor, but Kline’s knowledge is much less superficial. Although the biggest names, like Robert Crumb, are obviously referenced, Kline throws the audience deep into this world.
On paper, the characters seem like they should be rather annoying, but they are surprisingly compelling and sympathetic. Unlike a lot of characters that come from upper-class backgrounds and give up their privilege, he never comes off as pretentious. He makes a lot of bad decisions, but we don’t condemn him because we know the reason why he is doing it.
Daniel Zolghadri is absolutely fantastic in his leading role, the perfect amount of awkward to be lovable but not to a level that feels unnatural. In a rare prominent role, Matthew Maher is very funny and extremely uncomfortable to watch. And in his small turn, Stephen Adly Guirgis is a hilarious scene-stealer.
Like the comics to which Kline is paying homage, this movie feels very edgy and independent. Kline makes everything feel as disgusting and uneasy as possible without going overboard. The highlight of the film is the protagonist’s comics, which were created to mimic underground comix.
Funny Pages certainly isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but its shocking, darkly funny humor will be a hit with the right audience. Kline’s fiercely independent vision cements him as a filmmaker to watch.
Funny Pages hits theaters and VOD on August 26.
OUT OF THE BLUE -- Neil LaBute Surprises and Amazes With His Latest Mystery-Thriller
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Mystery-thrillers can be an exciting genre for most people looking for a film that takes them away from their personal lives or struggles with family, finances, or work. They can go in many different directions, but the most common is when a man or woman meets a stranger, and they proceed to have a relationship even though they shouldn't. Out of the Blue is just that type of film.
Connor Bates (Ray Nicholson), a librarian with a checkered past, is out for a run when he stops at a beach and sees a woman in a red bathing suit coming out of the water. Her name is Marilyn (Diane Kruger, Inglorious Basterds). The two start talking to one another and become close friends despite their better judgment. Marilyn has her own domestic issues that Connor can't help but be concerned by.
These types of mystery thrillers are right out of the toolbox of filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock. Neil LaBute is no stranger to this genre, having directed Lakeview Terrace and other films similar to this one. It's not easy for him to stay away from the genre's popular tropes. He leans in heavily on so many things others have done in the past that what he does in this film is nothing new.
The cast doesn't include the biggest name stars in the world. Still, there are a few names viewers might know besides Kruger, like Hank Azaria as a Probation Officer and Chase Sui Wonders (Bodies Bodies Bodies) as Kruger's character's stepdaughter. The one performance I thought was good was Marilyn Zwick's, who plays a friend of Nicholson's character. She brings a more down-to-earth feeling to this story. Viewers can probably relate to her quite a bit.
There is a backstory in this film I could relate to, and the locations of the film were also familiar to me. The film, taking place in New England, where I grew up, was a bit cathartic to me. I feel a kinship with the Connor character. He reminded me of me at this age, my late twenties. I don't know if I'd go to the lengths he'd go to for love, but it's part of the story, so I'll go with it. Even though it had a slow beginning, it eventually picked up the pace.
This film has a twist that seems a little too convenient to me. It's a contrivance that is a little too much to take, considering the direction this film was going in from the beginning. It seemed to me that LaBute looked over his script and did some edits, making it a little different than it originally was at the start. The film's twist completely turns around what was a rudimentary mystery thriller and makes it better. That is shocking to me. I had no faith in this film for most of the runtime. LaBute is more like Hitchcock than I could have imagined.
Some of the technical aspects of the film worked very well for me. The score by Adam Bosarge is fantastic. It goes along with the overall context of the film very nicely. There are also text screens that help describe the passage of time. These are terrific to show how time flows in the movie. I've never seen this before at this level of scriptwriting. LaBute is once again to thank for this as the director of the film. The production design is very good by Megan Elizabeth Bell. She captures the New England area perfectly.
Out of the Blue has so many things going for it. It's almost too good to be true, given how slowly this movie started. The twists and multiple endings are practically inconceivable. The writing and direction by LaBute are incredible. It's amazing how this film isn't on anybody's radar right now. The score by Bosarge is like butterflies and rainbows to my ears in the context of the film. The cast of mostly unknowns with a few big-name actors is very good. Still, the star of this film is LaBute, who is channeling Alfred Hitchcock. This seemed just like something he would do — he did direct Strangers on a Train, after all. This film was a pleasant surprise for me despite its occasional reliance on tropes. My advice is to take a chance on an unknown. You never know how it will turn out.
Out of the Blue hits theaters and VOD on August 26.
Review by Sean Boelman
Seven years after the release of one of his most critically and financially lauded films yet, Australian filmmaker George Miller returns to theaters with a movie that is drastically different in tone yet still features his stylistic trademarks. Unfortunately, despite being an absolute feast for the eyes, Three Thousand Years of Longing is dreadfully boring, almost to the point of being unwatchable.
The film follows a lonely scholar who comes across a Djinn who offers her three wishes that he must grant in exchange for his own freedom. Based on a short story by A.S. Byatt, the movie suffers from the same issues that so many films adapted from short stories have: it has an interesting concept, but it doesn’t know how to build it out to feature length.
Short story adaptations also tend to suffer from poor character development, which is one of the biggest issues with this movie. It’s odd, because it’s a two-hander with one character that is essentially all backstory and the other having very few defining qualities. Ultimately, no one is going to care much about either of the characters or their stories.
As the title implies, a majority of the film is flashbacks in which the Djinn discusses with his new master his previous experiences as the protagonist decides what wish she wants to make. And while these fantasy tales allow the movie plenty of room for grand visuals, the film is severely lacking in any form of narrative momentum or energy.
In one scene, the protagonist of the movie says that “every story about wishing is a cautionary tale,” and this is no exception. Miller and co-writer Augusta Gore don’t explore much more than the usual “be careful what you wish for” themes. There is an attempt to say something profound about love, but this aspect of the story feels entirely underdeveloped.
Tilda Swinton is usually fantastic, and while she is far from bad in this film, the role doesn’t give her much substantial material to work with. This is more of Idris Elba’s show, as he is the focus of the flashbacks, and he carries the movie very well. Still, the major factor that is missing is chemistry between the two actors.
It’s honestly shocking how much of this film is just the two main actors talking in a hotel room. During the flashbacks, the cinematography and production design are extravagant and stylish. However, the sequences tend to end just as soon as you begin to get immersed in the world that Miller is building.
Three Thousand Years of Longing is a massive disappointment from one of the finest filmmakers working today. Although the visual style certainly lives up to expectations, the script leaves too much to be desired for this to be worth watching.
Three Thousand Years of Longing hits theaters on August 26.
Review by Dan Skip Allen
The story of Mike Tyson isn't one for the lighthearted. If you're unfamiliar with his crazy and sorted life, prepare for a wild ride. There's a saying, "Be like Mike," more like be with "Mike" until they sue him for his money. That's the real story of Mike Tyson's life. He was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mike Tyson had a tough upbringing, and in Brownsville, New York City, that wasn't an easy or surprising life until he was imprisoned and found boxing as his savior. The rest of his life was a whirlwind, not unlike his opponents, who were knocked out pretty quickly in the ring.
Mike is played by three actors in the series Ethan Barrett as the young version, BJ Minor as a teen, and Trevonte Rhodes (Moonlight) as an adult. The show starts in 1974 with him as a child being picked on by bullies. It goes into his relationship with his mother. Then it later focuses on his turn into a life of crime and imprisonment as a teen before the show eventually goes into his relationship with Cus D'Amato (Harvey Keitel), his trainer and mentor/father figure. The rest is history depicted on the small screen for everyone to see.
The show goes into his relationships with Robin Givens (Laura Harrier, Spider-Man: Homecoming), a famous actress from The Cosby Show and Head of the Class, and his rape trial with Desiree Washington (Li Eubanks), Miss Rhode Island Black America. The series also features Don King (Russell Hornsby), who is trying to be a business manager/go-between for the press and boxing organizations. He also took a lot of Tyson's money in the process. Tyson had a tragic life after his boxing career's success ended.
One glaring issue with this show that I have is that the series uses breaking the fourth wall as a key story aspect. I feel this didn't work very well. It took away from the overall dramatic elements of the show. The voiceover of Tyson describing some things that happened in his life was also off-putting. The framing device is him doing a stand-up routine in Enid, Indiana, telling his story how he sees it, not how the media portrays his life.
The acting in the series is fine with Rhodes as the star, and he owns this role. I couldn't have imagined him in this role, but he goes all in as this damaged man with all the highs and the lows anybody could imagine in one lifetime. Keitel as D'Amato was good as well. The women — Harrier as Givens and Eubanks as Washington — were the standouts opposite Rhodes. They brought this show to another level. Two actresses I wasn't that familiar with proved they have a big future after this series airs. And Hornsby is always good in whatever project he's in, and he's having a blast devouring every scene playing Don King.
This series goes into all of Tyson's life, from winning the heavyweight championship to the lows of his separations and trials. He had it all, but everything was taken away from him, similar to many celebrities. Most biopics show the rise to fame and the fall from grace of archetypes like Tyson. They all have a similar story. From musicians to actors to athletes, they rarely are depicted as saints their entire lives. Tyson is no different than the others. In fact, he is the perfect example of this.
Craig Gillespie is known for directing and producing some other biopic and true-life stories, such as I, Tonya and Hulu's own Pam and Tommy. Tyson is another series about actual events. The other projects he's done, even Cruella, are better than this series. There is a vibe and feel he's going for here that doesn't work for me. I've been a fan of his other projects, especially I, Tonya, but this one wasn't for me. I grew up watching Tyson's life unfold on the little screen, and this version of his story seemed a little too much like a fever dream.
Mike is a series that goes all in on the ups and downs of Tyson's life and the loves and losses he faced throughout his tragic and successful existence. Everything was depicted in the show. Gillespie goes a little too far with breaking the fourth wall and the various ways he tries to tell Tyson's story. On the other hand, the actors — especially Rhodes, Harrier, and Washington — deliver everything they can to try and salvage this eight-part mini-series. It's just all over the place. Maybe that was the point of what they were going for. Diehard Tyson fans might like this depiction of his life; it just wasn't for me.
Mike streams on Hulu beginning August 25. Five out of eight episodes reviewed.
HOUSE OF THE DRAGON -- A GAME OF THRONES Prequel Lacking the Backstabbing and Action of the Original Show
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Game of Thrones was a massive hit for HBO and creator George R. R. Martin when it first aired. It makes sense that someone would take some peripheral characters like the Targaryens and spin them off into their own series. After all, they do have a pretty dark and sordid past, not that Daenerys doesn't. Most of this story was made up by the creators and writers, but it's still based on the book Fire & Blood by Martin. Usually, when the Game of Thrones series is based on books, it is pretty good. It's when they veer off of the books they falter. This show is pretty solid after five episodes.
King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine, Cinderella Man) is the ruler of the seven kingdoms and King of the Iron Throne. There is only one problem, though. He doesn't have a male heir; he only has a daughter, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock). When a tragedy befalls the King's wife while in labor, the Princess becomes the only heir to the throne. But not so fast! The King's brother, Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith, Doctor Who, The Crown), thinks he should be the heir to the Iron Throne. This show is just like Game of Thrones, with fewer characters and a less confusing story to follow.
As I said, there aren't that many characters to follow, but another lead important to the story is Lord Corlys Velaryon, "The Sea Snake" (Steve Toussaint), a member of the small council and a master of the seas with hundreds of ships. He has children he thinks should be wed to the King or his daughter. Speaking of daughters, we have a friend of Rhaenyra, Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey and later played by Olivia Cooke). She's the daughter of the Hand of King Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans, The Amazing Spider-Man). He convinced his daughter to wed the King and create heirs to the throne. This muddies the water even more.
Because House of the Dragon has fewer characters, they must be more interesting and engaging. The show focuses on this handful of characters and does a good job building them and their stories up. It just seems to be not enough after what was created in the sister show. There is just too much exposition and not enough action. There is a battle scene, so fans of those will be happy. Still, I don't think this show delves into the mythos of Westeros enough for my taste.
The show's title is House of the Dragon, so fans of the books will be upset if there aren't any dragons in this new show. I'm here to say there are dragons in the series, and they are badass. Both Smith's character and Alcock ride dragons. When they appear, they mostly wreck shop. The CGI on the dragons is damn good as well. These things look great. The CGI on them couldn't have been cheap either. The dragon scenes were probably the best in the show this far. The series needed them because of all the talking from the other characters.
Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal created this show based in part on the blessing of Martin. They were riding high from the previous show. That didn't mean they needed to make this show. Not everything needs prequels or sequels, for that matter. Granted, I've only watched five episodes, so maybe I'll feel differently after seeing the whole show. The problem is fans of Game of Thrones pretty much know this story already, so making it so slow at the beginning is not a good idea. There needed to be more action than just the one episode. I think it was episode four that had a big battle scene. There needed to be more stories to offset the fewer characters and action scenes. I know they were going off the book, but something needed to be changed to improve it.
The actors in the show were superb, though. What they had to work with and what they did with that was astounding to me. Considine, Smith, Ifans, Alcock, and Carey were all fantastic. I haven't got to the older versions of the princesses yet, so I don't know how they were in the show later in the season. These, mostly character actors, had the brunt of dialogue and killed it in every scene. Even though I wished there were more action scenes and characters to watch on screen, what I saw was done very well. From the writing aspect, it was first-rate. The direction of the episodes was done exceptionally also.
House of the Dragon brought me back into Westeros, which was fun to be a part of. The writing and acting were superbly done by all involved. The direction was also done very well. It didn't take much time to be brought right back into this world with the costumes, hairstyles, and those dragons flying around wrecking shop everywhere they went. There just weren't enough action scenes and deaths for my liking. I got to know the characters in five episodes but did not truly love them yet. That's a shame because, by this point in Game of Thrones, I loved some of the characters and the show.
House of the Dragon debuts on HBO on August 21 at 9pm ET/PT, with new episodes airing subsequent Sundays. Five out of ten episodes reviewed.
Review by Sean Boelman
Beast is the type of movie where, if you go in knowing exactly what you will get out of the experience, you’re unlikely to come out feeling dissatisfied. It’s hardly a particularly intelligent film, but as a ninety-minute thriller about Idris Elba punching a lion, there’s not much more you could ask from it.
The movie follows a father and his two teenage daughters as they get stranded in the African savanna when they are attacked by a massive lion hellbent on protecting its territory. The story is not too dissimilar from the killer animal movies that peaked in popularity in the ‘80s and ‘90s that had a star facing off against an unnaturally powerful force of nature.
Admittedly, the film is entirely predictable. You know exactly where the story is heading. And yet, with a runtime that is just short ninety minutes before credits, the action is more than steady enough to keep viewers interested despite the fact that they will know the eventual ending of the movie.
Writer Ryan Engle attempts to infuse the movie with some meaning in the form of an environmentalist, anti-poacher message, but it largely feels shallow. Apart from setting up one of the coolest and most thrilling action sequences in the film, the poacher angle doesn’t do much of anything except lend itself to some bad dialogue.
The movie also forces an emotional backstory with a tear-jerking tale of the protagonist’s wife having died of cancer, leaving him a single father with two grieving and distant daughters. Ultimately, it ends up feeling a bit tacky given that the focus is on the action and there isn’t enough time to fully flesh this storyline out.
Idris Elba is a very versatile actor, as he is able to handle both more dramatic material and be a badass action star. Even though the one-liners he is being asked to deliver in this film are not particularly impressive in nature, Elba nonetheless exudes a charm and charisma that easily carries the movie. Sharlto Copley is also memorable and fun in his supporting role.
The CGI for the lion isn’t always the best, but the budget for this film is also surprisingly modest considering its reliance on the animated creature in the storyline. That said, it’s never laughably bad, and rarely ever distracts from the suspense, which is well-crafted by director Baltasar Kormákur.
Beast is about as lean of a survival thriller as there can be. Although the movie’s attempts at adding substance consistently fall flat, that is unlikely to be what audiences are buying a ticket to see, and it delivers on its promise of big cat action.
Beast hits theaters on August 19.
Review by Sean Boelman
From the creator of everyone’s (least) favorite hate watch, 13 Reasons Why, comes Echoes, a new mystery-thriller that is almost as baffling as the infamous teen drama. With a ludicrous story that somehow manages to be both deathly boring and one of the most confusing things you will ever see in your life, this is just an altogether unpleasant watch.
The show follows two identical twins harboring a dark secret — they have been switching lives with each other since their youth — when their lives are torn apart when one of them goes missing. It’s a premise that’s crazy enough to be intriguing, if only the writers had crafted a compelling mystery to build on it.
It can be extremely hard to keep up with what is happening in this series, and it’s largely due to poor writing. Characters that are identical twins (and played by the same actor) can be tricky to work with, but this show just absolutely fumbles the ball. More often than not, you can’t tell who’s who, and not in an intriguing way.
The only real differences between the characters are that one has a Southern accent and one doesn’t. But sometimes the one that doesn’t have the accent is faking the accent, and vice versa. And apparently one wears their hair to the left and the other to the right, culminating in one of the most ridiculous scenes in cinematic history in which a character parts their hair the other way to prove that she is the other twin. It genuinely makes no sense.
When you add in the fact that the series is told with a nonlinear storyline, with lots of flashbacks to things that happened in the past and may or may not be called back to in subsequent episodes, what you have is an indecipherable mess. And worse yet, the story that is needlessly convoluted isn’t all that interesting in the first place.
It’s a shame, because Michelle Monaghan is a talented actress who deserves much better than this. Dual roles of this sort are often a shoo-in for awards consideration given the amount of work it takes to pull off two characters believably, but the writing doesn’t give her any room to do anything that even remotely resembles believable.
Visually, the series is about as gray as they come. A lot of other successful mystery series, like Mare of Eastown, have some sort of visual style to them, but Echoes is just muted. It certainly doesn’t help create any energy, which could have been a lifesaver given that the writing is in such desperate need of a kick.
Echoes is, simply put, not worth your time. For the first six episodes, you’ll probably be bored and confused out of your mind, only for the seventh episode to conclude with a preposterous finale that will leave you wondering why you even wasted your time on it in the first place.
Echoes streams on Netflix beginning August 19. All seven episodes reviewed.
Review by Camden Ferrell
After a year that has already included five different MCU projects, we are now getting the long-awaited series She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. Created by Emmy-winning writer Jessica Gao (Rick & Morty), this show adapts the iconic character of Jennifer Walters. This is a series that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is loads of fun, and its shortcomings are more than compensated by Tatiana Maslany’s great leading performance.
Jennifer Walters is a young and intelligent lawyer who commands the courtroom with ease. She is the cousin of Bruce Banner and after an incident, she finds herself infected with his blood to also become a Hulk. From here, she must navigate her world with these powers and deal with the consequences that come because of it. This is a classic character who deserves a great adaptation, and this series sets up the character very well.
One of the most important aspects of She-Hulk is her humor, and the show establishes that tone from its first moments. The writing is one of the funnier things we’ve seen Marvel do lately, and it is very nonchalant about everything which makes it even more enjoyable. There are some exchanges and scenes with jokes that don’t always land, but it works well for the most part.
Tatiana Maslany leads the show as Jennifer, and this is one of the finest castings we’ve seen in this universe thus far. She embodies this role perfectly and has all the charisma that this character needs. She’s funny, and her comedic timing and chemistry is quite great. The supporting cast pales in comparison to her, but they each are entertaining in their own ways.
The show has lots of familiar faces, but She-Hulk doesn’t take a backseat to anyone. It’s a great way to reward fans without cheapening the final product. I also liked how it ditches the overarching structure of previous MCU shows in favor of an episodic comedy that is concise and fun to watch and forgoes and filler material.
One of the glaring problems with the show though is its special effects. Like previous MCU projects, the CGI can be awful and an eye sore, and this is no exception. There are several moments that look goofy and can really take you out of the experience. However, Maslany is so great in this, that these cosmetic mistakes become almost forgivable.
While it isn’t the most groundbreaking or original series, it is a nice change of pace for this franchise. The 4th wall breaks are fun and feel like they’re genuinely trying to do something different in this universe, and it works quite well. It’s not perfect, but it does the character justice.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is a fun legal comedy that MCU fans will enjoy upon release. There are great callbacks and cameos, but at its core, the show is about Jennifer Walters and who she is as a person and now as a hero.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law premieres its first episode on Disney+ August 18 with subsequent episodes every Thursday. Four of the nine episodes are reviewed.
Review by Camden Ferrell
Look Both Ways is a new romantic comedy-drama from Netflix. It is directed by Wanuri Kahiu whose most recent movie, Rafiki, premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Even though the movie has some fairly big names attached to it, it doubles down on the least interesting aspects of the two storylines while ignoring what could have made it a compelling film.
Natalie is an aspiring animator who is ready to embark on the next phase of her life. On the day before her college graduation, she finds herself in the midst of a pregnancy scare. This movie follows the parallel realities that diverge from that moment: one where she is pregnant and remains in her hometown and one where she is not pregnant and embarks for Los Angeles to follow her dreams.
The parallel storylines is an interesting storytelling device that could have made for some really interesting juxtaposition and thematic exploration, but it is never used to its fullest extent. For the first act of the movie, it doesn’t fully trust the viewer to follow what is happening, and this hinders the quality of its narrative. In addition to this, the diverging storylines feel too similar and repetitive to justify its use in telling Natalie’s story.
Lili Reinhart leads the movie as Natalie, and while she didn’t phone in her performance, there really isn’t a lot to enjoy or admire. It’s a bland performance that’s not bad but as far from memorable as can be. Her supporting cast with names like Danny Ramirez, Luke Wilson, and Andrea Savage also leave a lot to be desired.
The main problem with the movie is it misunderstands what’s interesting about its story. The pregnancy storyline had much more conflict and drama that was totally mishandled and glossed over, and the other storyline lacked anything to make it interesting to watch. It doesn’t give the audience time to process to consequences of each storyline because its too concerned with fitting two movies into the length of one.
Look Both Ways is an uninteresting movie that tries to use its somewhat unique narrative structure to its benefit but ultimately fails. It is a bland story that doesn’t give the interesting parts of its script the time of day and completely misuses a usually talented ensemble.
Look Both Ways is on Netflix August 17.