“Look Both Ways” is directed by Wanuri Kahiu and written by April Prosser. It is centered around Natalie (Lili Reinhart), who has formed a five-year plan to become a successful animator. But a one-night stand with one of her best friends, Gabe (Danny Ramirez), puts a big question mark on that future. On her graduation night, as Natalie waits for her pregnancy test, her life divides into two realities. In one reality, she doesn’t get pregnant and moves to L.A. with her other best friend, Cara (Aisha Dee). And in the other reality, she does get pregnant and goes to her parents, Tina (Andrea Savage) and Rick (Luke Wilson), with Gabe to raise the child. Kahiu, with the help of cinematographer Alan Caudillo, editor Brad Leach, production designer Keith Brian Burns, art director Christy Gray, and costume designer Colin Wilkes, does a good job of simultaneously unraveling the two realities. Still, in case you had a hard time figuring it out, let’s look at them individually and talk about it.
What Happens To The Version Of Natalie Who Gets Pregnant?
After getting to Natalie’s parents’ house (which is home to one of the many funny scenes in the movie), Gabe proposes to Natalie to get married. Yes, he is interrupted by Tina and Rick. But Natalie technically rejects him as she wants them to be co-parents to their child instead of being a married couple. Later, after listening to how Cara is living her life in L.A., she starts to show signs of depression because she thinks she is losing out on the life she had planned for herself. But after her trip to the OB/GYN and learning that she and Gabe are having a girl, her mood starts to look up. She starts using her artistry to paint her daughter’s room, and her relationship with Gabe and her parents begins to mature.
One day, Natalie goes into labor, and Gabe caringly takes her to the hospital, where they are joined by Tina and Rick. The delivery goes as smoothly as deliveries go, and everyone smiles at little Rosie. But after scrolling through Instagram and seeing how well Cara is doing, Natalie hits another wall as she thinks that being a mother is consuming her whole life. Thanks to Gabe, Tina, and Rick, though, she mentally overcomes that hurdle and goes on to celebrate Rosie’s half-year birthday. Gabe moves into his own space and gives Natalie the offer to move in there with Rosie. However, she rejects that as they promised to not be a couple. She even tells him to start dating again, and Gabe reluctantly accepts this suggestion. When Cara comes to visit Natalie, she admits that she got overwhelmed and she has messed things up with Gabe.
A few years later, during a barbeque party, Gabe invites his latest girlfriend, Miranda (Amanda Knapic), to join him. That throws Natalie off, but she realizes that she has to accept that Gabe is seeing other people. So, in order to process this paradigm shift, she takes a vacation to L.A. to stay with Cara and let Rosie stay with Gabe. She runs into Jake (David Corenswet) at a restaurant and shows obvious signs of chemistry. Soon after that, Natalie cuts her vacation short after getting a call from Rosie and learning that she has spent a whole night under a sitter’s supervision instead of Gabe’s. She arrives at Gabe’s house to make sure that Rosie’s okay and tells her to start packing. While Rosie is away, she berates Gabe and learns that the sitter was actually Miranda’s sister. And he couldn’t stay with Rosie because he proposed to Miranda, and that obviously took a lot of time to wrap up.
See More: Character Of Natalie Bennett, Explained
What Happens To The Version Of Natalie Who Doesn’t Get Pregnant?
The first thing that Natalie does after getting to L.A. is look for a job. She notices that Lucy Galloway (Nia Long), who is one of her favorite animators, is looking for a full-time assistant. So, in order to make a good impression ahead of her interview, she attends a party being thrown by Lucy’s animation studio. She doesn’t find Lucy there. But she does find Jake, who helps her navigate through that party and is revealed to be an employee at Lucy’s company. With the help of some tips from him, Natalie gets the job. She starts going on dates with Jake and finds many similarities with him, especially their dependency on a five-year plan. Everything continues to go relatively well until she realizes that Lucy isn’t interested in her work as an animator, and she only wants her to fetch the coffee.
Natalie and Jake go on a date and finalize the fact that they are a couple now. They start looking for a place where they can move in together. On the work side of things, Jake goes through Natalie’s portfolio and urges her to present it to Lucy before she starts staffing up for her latest project. Natalie does exactly that, but Lucy tells her to just send the link to the portfolio and then proceeds to not check it out instantly. As if that’s not disappointing enough, Jake reveals that he has received the green light for a documentary project for which he has to go to Nova Scotia for six months or a full year. Which means that they can’t move in together. But they promise to “make it work” as a long-distance relationship. And, well, due to bad reception, it doesn’t go as well as one would expect it to.
To make matters worse, Lucy gives some horrifying feedback regarding Natalie’s work by calling it derivative of the style of the people she idolizes. That understandably breaks her heart, and when she tries to vent about it to Jake, she finds him distant (because he is literally on a far away island). So, they call it quits, and Natalie goes to her parents to stay there for a while. While scrolling through her Instagram feed, she finds out that one of her old friends, Nicole (Ashlyn Anderson Gomez), is having a baby shower and that Gabe is engaged in this reality (not to Nicole, BTW). She attends Nicole’s baby shower with Cara, and becomes a little too aware of the fact that she’s not doing very well now since she’s broke, single, and unemployed. And she bails from the party, that too without Cara, who looks visibly dejected.
‘Look Both Ways’ Ending Explained: Are The Two Parallel Lives Real Or Something That She Imagines While Waiting For Her Pregnancy Result?
After hitting the lowest of lows, the realities of the two versions of Natalie kind of begin to align. They re-realize that their true calling is their artwork, and that’s the only thing that is going to make their respective lives better again. For the sake of clarity, blue is the color of Natalie, that is a mom, and pink is the color of Natalie, that isn’t a mom, so allow me to call them Natalie Blue and Natalie Pink for the sake of clarity. So, armed with the determination to become a professional animator, Natalie Blue starts working on a comic called “Night Owl,” and Natalie Pink starts working on an animated short called “Indigo”. After finishing it, they submit it to the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival, in the hopes that someone is going to pick it up and finance it. And both Natalie Blue and Natalie Pink’s works are accepted for presentation at SXSW.
Natalie Blue and Natalie Pink go out to present their work in their respective realities. Natalie Blue actually shares the stage with Lucy, who greatly appreciates her work. Natalie Pink walks into Gabe, who is not just engaged, but also married in this reality, and is doing very well with his band. Natalie Blue attends Gabe’s performance, and that’s where she learns that Gabe and Miranda are not together anymore. Jake receives Natalie Pink’s voicemail and arrives at the SXSW festival while risking his job. They make amends and become a couple again. After the screening of “Indigo,” Natalie Pink runs into Lucy, who is now ready to offer her a new job. Natalie Pink readily accepts it. Natalie Blue and Gabe return to the bridge where it all began and decide to give their relationship a proper try now since both of them are single and stable.
Now, here’s where “Look Both Ways” gets a little tricky and ambiguous. Natalie Pink and Natalie Blue return to the sorority house, while Gabe and Jake from their respective realities wait outside for them. They go into the bathroom, look into the mirror, and reassure themselves that everything is going to be okay. And that’s when we get a brief glimpse of a version of Natalie who is still sitting there, waiting for her pregnancy result. This can mean three things. One, it’s just the movie’s way of saying that “look how far Natalie has come in both of the realities.” Or two, it hints at the existence of a third reality where Natalie is going to do something radically different, but she’s going to turn out okay as well. Or three. The events of the film are just Natalie (the original version who is waiting for her results) playing out the two scenarios in her head. What’s actually going to happen to her is unknown. The only thing we know is that she’s going to make it through.
“Look Both Ways” is a 2022 Drama Romance Film directed by Wanuri Kahiu.