Look Both Ways is based on the concept behind the Gwyneth Paltrow-led film, Sliding Doors, which splits the narrative into parallel realities after a woman misses her train. Instead of hinging on a train’s doors, this sweet comedy romance drama uses a pregnancy test, splitting the story into one reality where Natalie becomes pregnant and moves back home to her parents and another where she joins her best friend to break into the animation industry. It’s a curious and engaging storytelling device as her paths diverge, offering a view of her attempt to reconnect with her empty-nester parents in Texas and finding fulfillment in her dream job in Los Angeles.
Look Both Ways stars the delightful Lili Reinhart and is directed by Kenyan filmmaker, Wanuri Kahiu, who co-wrote and directed the critically-acclaimed Rafiki. Reinhart is reminiscent of Reece Witherspoon, cute, charming, naïve and adept enough to navigate both storylines, as the film toys with the idea of fate, timing and soulmates. A star-making turn, Reinhart’s supported by Danny Ramirez, David Corenswet and Aisha Dee, who reflect her glow with charming turns as romantic interests and a best friend. Then, Andrea Savage and Luke Wilson add some welcome comic relief as tough love parents who have to rejig their much-anticipated next chapter.
Look Both Ways is bold in its split narrative approach, using visual effects quite elegantly to convey the dual realities but pretty comfortable and conventional in most other ways. Opting to play within the safe limits of its genre, there aren’t any surprises bar the two-romcoms-for-the-price-of-one, which is deft enough to keep both stories equally curious and engaging. Kahiu aims for breezy and cohesive entertainment and winning performances over artful expression, allowing the colourful and sweet-natured “what if” fantasy’s magic to unfold without too much fuss.
“Okay guys, smell the “Cheese!”…”
The film’s offhanded sense of humour keeps it amusing, using its situational dynamics and sparkling chemistry to good effect. Reinhart’s supporting cast reflect her steady glow, adding to the team effort and adopting the story’s gentle flow. The unassuming writing keeps things fun, bubbly and entertaining enough to satisfy audiences without becoming overly predictable.
Comfortable and easy-going, Look Both Ways has enough spin and fresh faces to satisfy with its undemanding storytelling. Switching quite effortlessly between parallel realities, it’s never a chore or a bore. Ultimately, the thoughtful Sliding Doors reworking, Reinhart’s magnetic star presence and the film’s lighthearted “romcom” vibrations add up to crowd-pleasing entertainment.
The bottom line: Breezy