“Look Both Ways” is a film about the possible results of a single event in life. Natalie Bennett was an ambitious woman who had a five-year plan up her sleeve to become a celebrated animator in Hollywood. She found her comfort in her friend, Gabe, and they had a friends-with-benefit situation going as well. While it was strictly friendship with sexual favor, life seemed to have other possibilities. It all started when Natalie had to take a pregnancy test on their graduation day at the University of Texas. The day called for celebration, but Natalie could not help but panic, knowing that this single test could completely change her life. This was the turning point in the film, where Natalie’s life was split into two. One was her life after the test indicated that she was not pregnant, and the other was after the test read positive.
I think the most crucial moment in our lives feels like an hour in which we formulate the most probable outcomes. Often the results are not what we want, but life goes on, and somewhere it takes the shape of what it was meant to be. “Look Both Ways” delves into the idea of fate and destiny, where nothing could affect what is meant to be, not even a pregnancy. The film keeps it light-hearted without indulging in the politics that is associated with the female body. Natalie’s life is split into two; in one, she pursues her dream, and in the other, she chooses to take a detour. When her test read positive, she felt the need to keep the baby. She believed it was something that she had to do, even if that meant giving up on her dream of living in LA with her best friend, Cara. This was an unexpected side of Natalie that the film brought forth. She was determined about her future, but she was ready to give it all away for the baby she was carrying. While there is a lack of clarity and reason why she made the decision, maybe she concluded it to be divine intervention (we don’t know for sure).
The other Natalie was relieved to know that she was not pregnant. She celebrated her graduation that night and left for LA the next morning, just the way she had always planned to. She was living the dream and checking the boxes of her five-year plan. While the warm California tone was soothing for Natalie, she soon realized that life was not as easy as she thought it would be. She searched for jobs but barely received any response. She applied for the position of assistant to her favorite animator, but she was never contacted by them. Cara started working at her advertisement job, whereas Natalie decided to show up at a party for “Tall Story”, the company where she had applied, uninvited. She was desperate to make her dream come true, and the party would allow her to showcase her talent to Lucy, the creative head of the animation studio.
Just like any other film that confirms a happy ending with the way it starts and the color tones that it uses, “Look Both Ways” too had luck being sold for a dollar bill. Natalie is lucky. She is supposed to be lucky, unlike in the real world, where she would have been denied access to the party from the get-go. But then again, we find comfort in films that add a slight (or more) zing to the mundane reality. Natalie was lucky to have found Jake at the bar, who was an employee at the animation studio, but he did not disclose his identity during their first meeting. He advised Natalie to enter the party, pretending to be a part of it. There were hundreds of guests, and the gatekeeper would surely not cross-check every person who entered the party. Natalie accepted his bold advice and managed to enter, only to learn that Lucy was not there. She was about to leave, wanting to go home and apply for more jobs to make a living in LA. Jake saw the determination in her, and he recommended her for the position. Of course, Natalie was talented, but she would not have landed the job had she not met Jake. Perhaps it was her desperate move to go to the party that changed her luck, and she got her dream job.
While life in LA was taking shape, life in Texas was a mess. She had to disclose her pregnancy to her parents, and she started to live with them. Gabe helped her in every way possible. He even offered to marry her, but Natalie was not ready to get married just because she was having their baby. I think the fear of losing Gabe is what forced Natalie to make certain decisions. She never wanted to have a romantic relationship with him, not because she was not interested in him, but rather because she feared losing him. She knew that a breakup would destroy the beautiful friendship that they shared, and she could not risk her friendship for love. Natalie was not a risk-taker but rather someone who would prefer to find happiness in what she had and in the hope of not jinxing it. But Natalie showed her bravery in having a baby at the age of 22, pausing her dream for a year or two. She watched her peers live their best lives as she sat at home, knowing that her life was not what she had wished for.
“Look Both Ways” keeps it superficial and does not dive deep into the emotions that career-driven Natalie experiences during such a major life event. It keeps it short and simple, and Natalie gives birth to Rosie, their little daughter. Natalie’s life revolved around her daughter, and Gabe provided her with the help and support that she required post-delivery. They nick-named their daughter Night-owl, since she was nocturnal after birth. Gabe and Natalie weaved funny stories about the life of a little night owl who had several responsibilities on her shoulders that forbade her from sleeping.
While life in LA with Jake was textbook perfect, Natalie was yet to fulfill her dream. When she showed her work to Lucy, she was quick to warn her that her work replicated the works or styles of several animators. She lacked originality, and Lucy wanted her to find her voice, even if that meant quitting her job. As she lost her job, she also realized that the long-distance relationship with Jake was not working as well. They parted ways, and Natalie returned home to her parents. Both the versions of Natalie found their voices in their childhood rooms.
The chaos of LA overwhelmed Natalie to the point where she could no longer express her thoughts in her own way. In her room, she connected with the animator she had always wanted to be. The young mother found her creative spark through her daughter, whose antics helped her design an entire story about the little night-owl. Both the Natalie-s had experienced life in different ways and in more than one way every experience helped them to tell stories that they had always wanted to. While Natalie, the mother, used her skills and created a website for her comic, Natalie from LA made an animated short and was selected at a film festival. Natalie’s website was soon dubbed as one of the best by PopSugar. She was invited as one of the panelists at the same festival. Both the Natalie’s were meant to be a part of the festival; they both came across Lucy, who appreciated their works and indicated a certain influence in their lives. Gabe performed at the festival; he was a seasoned drummer and married in one reality, whereas in the other, he was starting his career as a drummer and was completely in love with Natalie.
In both realities, Natalie found love and fulfilled her aspirations. Jake flew down to watch Natalie’s short, expressing his love for her while Natalie finally confessed her love for Gabe. She had always been afraid of being in a relationship with Gabe, knowing how it could possibly not end the right way. This time, after years spent together and apart, after going through the ups and downs of life, she had realized that it was worth taking a chance. The what-ifs in life are constant. There are always two or more possible outcomes to every decision we make, but then again, some are worth diving for, even if that means accepting the worst outcome. Natalie was meant to be a promising animator, no matter what life would throw at her. What she thought would be her perfect life in LA might not be so perfect. She might have to return home to find her voice. Life is unpredictable, but in the “Look Both Ways” world, what is meant to be will be.
See More: ‘Look Both Ways’ Ending, Explained – Are Natalie’s Parallel Realities Real Or Figments Of Her Imagination?