Look Both Ways presents the two vastly different lives Natalie could live based on one thing that could change her life forever. Is Natalie pregnant or not?
Things start pretty simply for Natalie and her college friend Gabe. As their time at school ends, the duo celebrates their upcoming graduation by sleeping together. But, when Natalie finds herself sick at a party, the question becomes if it is a reaction to food that has gone wrong or if she is pregnant.
Just before Natalie can receive an answer, the world splits in two. Look Both Ways presents versions of Natalie’s life where in one, it is only a pregnancy scare, and Natalie leaves with her best friend Cara for Los Angeles. In the other world, Natalie moves back home with Gabe, and the duo decides to co-parent the baby.
Look Both Ways equally shows the highs and lows of Natalie’s experiences. Romance with each of Natalie’s different world counterparts, Gabe and Jake, is a part of the film. However, the more meaningful focus is on her professional aspirations as an artist and how it changes based on her life’s circumstances.
In both worlds, Natalie plans to go into the animation industry. However, in the story where Natalie goes straight to Los Angeles, she has a head start after finally getting a job at an animation studio. Meanwhile, in the other world, Natalie focuses on motherhood for the most part before her daughter is old enough for Natalie to have a bit more time to divert some of her attention back to her artistic talents.
To some degree, the worlds mirror each other, or each version of Natalie experiences something the other would find helpful. Having been raising a daughter gives Natalie a voice that is all her own, inspired by her experiences as a mother with her daughter and inside jokes with Gabe. That is the exact element the other counterpart to Natalie struggles to contemplate on her own. What is her voice?
However, in Los Angeles, Natalie gets work experience and chances to meet people her other counterpart would never have had the time to get to know.
Each world is given time and development to show how Natalie reacts to each situation she faces and portrays how she feels about it. Both romances she faces are given fleshed-out narratives and highs and lows. Natalie’s professional life, while on different paths, gained distinct ways of showing her eventual success.
Sadly, the same could not be said for Cara, Gabe, or Jake. Cara and Jake are more heavily featured in Natalie’s Los Angeles life. However, Cara’s life, either way, comes across that it is going similarly regardless. Although Natalie is not her roommate, she still does not love her job. When Natalie is in Los Angeles, Cara’s romantic life is given some hints toward her growing relationship with her girlfriend. Still, it never gets development similar to either of Natalie’s romances.
Jake’s arc primarily takes place in the universe where Natalie was never pregnant, as he is a massive supporter of her wish to break into the animation industry. But, other than being supportive of Natalie, the main thing he has going for him, the desire to direct documentaries, is the thing that also creates conflict for them.
For a brief moment, Jake is featured in the universe where Natalie is pregnant during her short visit to Los Angeles. While there may be a hint of a spark between them, Natalie has a daughter to get home to and growing feelings for Gabe she has yet to admit.
Gabe’s storyline mainly occurs in the universe where Natalie is pregnant. However, in the world where Natalie never was, Gabe’s role is cut to a brief reunion where Gabe’s band had become more successful, and that had taken priority. But, even the story itself, at some times, feels like it does not quite clarify everything it needs to.
Look Both Ways does not spend much time explaining why Natalie feels like she needs to raise this baby other than it is necessary for the plot. For example, discussing abortion or potentially giving up the baby for adoption would have added a little more depth toward explaining why Natalie wants to raise a baby at the age of twenty-two.
There is not a scene before Natalie discovers she is pregnant where she mentions that starting a family young is a part of her five-year plan. Instead, it would negate all of Natalie’s initial plans for herself. So, if Natalie believes that having a baby was supposed to happen, why is that?
Otherwise, Look Both Ways does not make any loud statements about the pros or cons of having a baby or not. Furthermore, it does not strive to discuss heavier discussions; for the most part, it is not more than what viewers can easily watch on screen from the first viewing.
The conclusion does try to get in a message about Natalie’s feelings about how her life turned out, though. As Natalie’s counterparts continue to experience different lives, their paths eventually lead toward an understanding. No matter which way life goes, Natalie is okay in the end.
Look Both Ways creates an ending where the concept of an ambiguous conclusion for which way her life will go does not feel unanswered. Either way, the audience understands what will happen next for Natalie and that although things have occurred differently, she is content with both versions of her life. Neither counterpart only experiences good or bad, and they both must figure out the best way to achieve the future they want to have.
Look Both Ways is currently streaming on Netflix.