Look Both Ways
She’s probably visualizing sticking a paintbrush right through his skull.

Theatrical Release Date: 08/18/2005 (Australia), 04/14/2006 (USA)
Director: Sarah Watt
Cast: William McInnes, Justine Clarke, Anthony Hayes, Daniella Farinacci

“Look Both Ways” is an ensemble film revolving around multiple storylines and their own perspectives on life and death.

The main focus is on Meryl (Justine Clark) and Nick (William McInnes). She is an artist that sees tragedies unfold everywhere, fixated on death. Nick is a photojournalist who has just recently discovered he has cancer and also sees death around every corner.

Through circumstance, they meet and become entangled in a relationship fraught with hesitancy and longing.

“Look Both Ways” garnered a number of Australian Film Institute awards, including Best Film, Direction and Screenplay. As such, I had been eagerly awaiting my chance at watching it.

However, I’m mixed on how to respond now that I’ve seen the film.

The multiple storylines try to weave an all-encompassing look at people’s lives. That’s just such a tall order and requires the ability to develop stories and characters all within a very short time frame, as each story needs attention.

That’s where “Look Both Ways” failed for me. I thought the acting was pretty good, the soundtrack is excellent and the art used to represent character’s fantasies about life and death is well done.

Kudos also to the editor for managing to create wonderfully paced and poignant barrages of images to simulate a time-lapse session of people’s lives. These sequences are some of the best work in regards to filmmaking that “Look Both Ways” has to offer.

However, trying to cram so many stories and characters together ended up with a disjointed, unfulfilling experience. Writer/director Sarah Watt would have been better off concentrating on only one or two of the stories in order to explore them thoroughly enough.

Additionally, Watt uses a severe rainstorm towards the end to symbolically cleanse the characters and steer them towards a different path in their lives. While I always appreciate symbolism, it felt forced here and a tad melodramatic.

Still, I did connect with the film, thanks to the actors and the artistic touched employed throughout. I also liked the basic message of the film, to “look both ways” when it comes to events in life. Being happy sometimes can be defined as the difference in one’s perspective on life, rather than specifically how things unfold around you.

Another Aussie film to add to my collection, I’m giving “Look Both Ways” a 3 out of 5 and will try to keep an eye out for Watt’s future work. She has the makings of a very good and innovative filmmaker.