Remember to Look Both Ways

The new Netflix movie shares the story of how one event can change everything with an intriguing perspective.

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Netflix

The contrast of pink and blue is depictive of how change is unavoidable in life.

Isha George, Staff Writer

At one time or another, most people have wondered what their lives would look like if they had chosen a different path. The new Netflix movie Look Both Ways offers a thought-provoking and engrossing take on how one choice or chance can change everything. 

Natalie Bennett, the protagonist played by Lili Reinhart, is extremely organized, with ambitious yet attainable goals and plans to achieve them. In one of the movie’s opening scenes, Bennett, a college senior, sits with her friend Gabe in their school library, attempting to help him study for one of their finals. Gabe says he sees no point in stressing over an exam when they have both graduated. Bennett, however, sees every moment as a stepping stone to her laid-out five-year plan. 

Her future, however, suddenly changes when, on the night of her college graduation, the movie splits. One outcome is a positive pregnancy test and the other is negative. Bennett’s life is now a game of what-ifs. The next day, her new realities begin to play out, and we see her diverge further along her two paths. 

In the negative test timeline, Bennett and her best friend, Cara​​, move to L.A. for their respective careers. Cara works an unspecified corporate job and Bennett sets her sights on an animation studio under one of her idols in the industry. Look Both Ways, being a rom-com at heart, brings her love interest to her through that job, an equally career-driven producer-to-be, Jake. 

In the alternative positive test timeline, Bennett moves back with her parents for the extra support she needs to raise her child. This puts her original post-graduation plan of moving to LA on the back burner. She also has to redefine her relationship and boundaries with her friend and baby’s father, Gabe.

The movie follows a course of around four years of Bennett’s life, showing what could have been — and what is — in either situation. The constant and unwavering part of the movie is Bennett’s focus and drive, whether in aiming for her career goals or taking the best care of her child.

Sometimes it isn’t a moment of change that has a large bearing on life–like Bennett on graduation night–but rather what can and is done with the outcome of that moment that matters.”

The duality of the movie, directed by Wanuri Kahiu, cleverly and poignantly shows two distinct but realistic paths that a person’s life can take. It also shows that sometimes it isn’t a moment of change that has a large bearing on life–like Bennett on graduation night–but rather what can and is done with the outcome of that moment that matters. She has a goal and a defined way to get to it in both timelines. 

We see that no matter what side of her future she is on, she faces struggles of self-worth, feeling unaccomplished, overlooked, and worn out. We also see that regardless of the timeline, she perseveres through life’s struggles. 

Bennett excels in her career once she gets out of her head, she successfully navigates the complications within relationships as time and people change, and she learns to make peace with all the possibilities of the world. She simply focuses on the potentialities before her, and she gives her all to them. 

It is important to keep in mind that this movie is a light-hearted comedy. However, what makes Look Both Ways truly cinematic is the chance it gives–not only to the characters on screen exploring untapped avenues but even to the audience, who can dream of their potential. Overall, the movie is a great watch for a relaxed afternoon, but the polarity of its plotline should pique the interest of more demanding audiences. 

A rather insightful discussion could be held as to which timeline was the “correct” one. But the big takeaway of the film is where Bennett ends up, which barring spoilers, is where she was meant to be — whether that is within the direct scope of her pre-established five-year plan or in a new one.