By Alexandria Woolfe
During the week of her college graduation, Natalie (Lili Reinhart) discovers she may be pregnant at a college fraternity party. Suddenly, her life splits into two: a reality where she is pregnant with her friend’s baby and her dreams are deferred, and then a separate reality where she isn’t pregnant and goes onto her animation program in LA.
Netflix’s “Look Both Ways,” released on Aug. 17, interestingly shows the concept of being able to live out two different realities and realizing that all of your choices can still lead to happiness and fulfillment. At this age, most students would give anything for the same reassurance Natalie looked for in the bathroom where she took her pregnancy test.
Plot aside, Lili Reinhart’s performance is unexpectedly very well-rounded. I went into the film with low expectations, regretfully. To see her, after becoming familiar with her in Riverdale for so many years, in a more serious or mature role definitely built a desire to see her in more dramatic roles. Natalie helps build a more seasoned look for her filmography.
What makes this film most fascinating is how both lives are shown but there isn’t a split screen to show the differences between the two Natalies. However, there is a little confusion towards the end after Natalie gets invited to a renowned media festival, South by Southwest, in both realities. Because both characters take on similar haircuts, you won’t get which reality you’re sitting through unless Natalie’s daughter is on screen.
Another part of the movie that I really enjoyed was that neither reality for Natalie depended on finding a boyfriend or a husband to take care of her. She was able to really focus on her accomplishments even in the reality where she had a daughter that she was taking care of on her own primarily.
On that, the movie never made motherhood seem like a hardship for Natalie. Her storyline revolved around being a mother but not in a negative way. Her art became better because she included her daughter and the lessons she learned from her. Natalie’s short film dedicated to and about motherhood even landed her an invitation to South by Southwest.
In the end, the movie returns back to the scene where Natalie is about to read her pregnancy test in the frat house bathroom. Both Natalies reenter the frat house to relive the moment that their lives changed forever, respectively. Watching this scene, it makes you think we finally find out which life actually happens. But the director, Wanuri Kahiu, ends the film with both Natalies looking into the mirror and finally having convinced the young original Natalie that whatever outcome doesn’t destroy her life the way it may seem.
The ending of the movie was crucial for both Natalie and for viewers because it soothes anxieties and lets you know that everything can and will be okay despite all the ups and downs that life can have. Not every plan you make comes to fruition.