Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Look Both Ways: Movie Review

A split life rom-com that’s cute and nice and a little bland.
It has been 24 years since Sliding Doors and it’s about time for another split life rom-com. Life can take two different directions for Natalie (Lili Reinhart) in Look Both Ways as she takes a pregnancy test on the night of her college graduation. In one, she’s pregnant and her and would-be dad Gabe are moving back home to live with her parents in Austin; in the other, she’s not pregnant and moving to LA with her best friend Cara.   2022

Directed by: Wanuri Kahiu

Screenplay by: April Prosser

Starring: Lili Reinhart, Danny Ramirez,
David Corenswet, and Aisha Dee

These types of movies are supposed to present a dichotomy between her two lives. Her LA life is one of hopefulness and wide-open possibilities, find a job in a city filled with dream-chasers and transition her friendship with Jake into a future and settled down life. Back in Austin, it’s all about becoming a mother, saying goodbye to her old life, and placing her new baby Rosie above all other people and things. For such a simple story, this is an awfully plot-heavy movie. It shouldn’t take 90 minutes just to establish where she is in each life. And yet it does, the final 20 minutes is saved for the resolution as her two lives work out.

This movie concentrates on Natalie’s career more than anything else and two very different paths to a very similar result. For the genre, one would normally expect more romance and heartbreak than there is here. It’s a more grounded movie which also means it’s on the bland side of things. It’s cute but there’s a very minimal range of emotions. That downside is due to a lack of interesting side characters. The two love interests, Gabe (Danny Ramirez) and Jake (David Corenswet), are both well-rounded people and the actors do a good job to exist outside of their relationship with Natalie but the chemistry is weak. Her best friend Cara is completely void of a personality and fails to add any dimension to Natalie.

Luckily the focus on the career pays off because it’s an interesting career – she’s a graphic designer in both 2D and 3D animation. The many movie and animation references should resonate well with the right audience. I can also see this movie being very inspiring to future animators or even documentary producers (Jake’s job).

There’s limited humour, but you can always count on Luke Wilson as dad to earn a few caring laughs. He has been such a comfortable presence in so many movies over his career and that’s no different here. Look Both Ways is cute and nice and likeable, but it’s not substantial enough to still be talked about in 24 years or even 5 years.