Review: ‘Look Both Ways’

Lili Reinhart's Effortless Charm Elevates a Standard Film With A Great 'Sliding Doors' Premise

When you look back on your life, do you see one moment, one event that sparks the question, “What If?”. That thing that, in hindsight seems to be a dyad between the two paths you could have followed, where you are and where you may have been if not for one decision. Of course you do, we all do, it’s a fact of human nature. Which is precisely why it makes such an intriguing premise for a film, Sliding DoorsThe Butterfly Effect, they all look at how one seemingly small decision can result in a wholly different existence. Look Both Ways, a Netflix original film starring Lili Reinhart (Riverdale) is the latest in the vein of this sub-genre though I think I may have made it sound a bit too dramatic with that preamble. The film, from director Wanuri Kahiu, isn’t anything so heavy as all that instead opting for a lighter, rom-com-esque movie that’s a perfect fit for your Friday or Saturday night on the couch.

Reinhart stars as Natalie, a young woman who has a casual hookup with her friend Gabe (Danny Ramierez) the night before her graduation. Later, fearing she may be pregnant, Natalie takes a home pregnancy test. This is the moment where our timelines split. One path sees the test come up positive leading Natalie to become a young mother, moving back into her parents house and co-parenting with Gabe. The other, where the test is negative, follows Natalie as she moves out to LA, meets the perfect guy and lands her dream job. On the surface the preferable path seems obvious, but the movie is sure to illustrate that any path you choose comes with it’s shares of joy, love, struggle, heartache and pain.

As I mentioned before this film format can be deep and heavy, but what Look Both Ways shows us it that it really doesn’t have to be. The plot device can be used to deliver a light, funny, and all around enjoyable film just as well. The movie rests solely on Reinhart as it’s her performance, her charisma that make or break the quality of the story. Thankfully the young Riverdale star proves that her range extends beyond that of pretty and charming. Watching her navigate the unexpected joys of a life she never wanted and the unexpected sorrows of the life she always dreamed could have been tough to pull off but she does it well and with ease. Of course, it’s not a one-woman show and it would be a sin not to mention the rest of the ensemble who all pull their weight and exceed what could have been a throw away film. Luke Wilson, who plays Natalie’s father, is as funny and charming as ever and Nia Long, who plays Natalie’s idol turned boss, is someone that I will never not want to see on screen.

If you’re looking for a film that will inspire you to wax philosophic on the choices you made in your own life…well, then this probably isn’t it. BUT if you are in the mood for a sweet story that can invoke some inward reflection while giving you those warm and fuzzies that come with cinematic sweetness you can’t really go wrong with Look Both Ways.

Look Both Ways is streaming on Netflix now.