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.