As kids, we’re taught to look both ways before crossing the street. But what if we could look both ways in life?
After an ill-advised evening with her friend, Gabe, Natalie finds herself at a pivotal intersection in life. From that intersection, her life can run in one of two ways. And while she can’t see both of them, we in the audience can.
In one direction, their rendezvous results in pregnancy. So, instead of moving to Los Angeles with her best friend, Cara, Nat moves back home with her parents. She and Gabe decide to co-parent their daughter instead of getting married. Gabe eventually gets engaged to another woman, which Nat doesn’t take well. And after four years, Natalie realizes she’s nowhere near accomplishing her five-year plan of becoming a successful artist.
But in the other direction, Natalie doesn’t get pregnant. She celebrates her college graduation with Gabe and Cara and then moves to L.A. She catches a huge break, landing a job as an assistant at the animation studio where her favorite illustrator works. She starts dating Jake, a nice guy from work who also happened to get her the job after he saw her promise and initiative.
But things still don’t go quite to plan. Jake winds up going to Nova Scotia after taking his own dream job with a film studio there. Nat is strongly encouraged to quit after her boss (and idol) tells her that her art is derivative. And she winds up back at her parents’ home in Texas.
In either scenario, Natalie can’t control what life throws at her: She can only control what she’ll do next.
In both of Natalie’s what ifs, Cara is there for her. She supports her best friend through and through and constantly encourages Natalie to pursue her dream of becoming an artist.
Gabe and Jake, Natalie’s respective paramours, are also caring. Gabe stands by Natalie’s side throughout the pregnancy and birth. He acts as a good father to their daughter, Rosie, and works well as Nat’s co-parent, even when he starts dating other women. In the other timeline, Jake pushes Natalie in her career and gives her advice about the film industry when things get tough. And though the couple has their downs, he ultimately puts his own career on the line to prove his love for her.
Natalie’s parents, though understandably upset upon learning that their daughter’s pregnant in one scenario, become her cheerleaders. They put Natalie and Rosie up in their house (and even Gabe until he finds his own place), giving up their own plans for the future as empty-nesters.
Though Natalie expresses no overt religious beliefs, she says that she “feels” like things are supposed to happen. Cara, on the other hand, tells Natalie to “look at God” when she gets a good job opportunity. Someone jokingly mentions tarot card readings.
We don’t see sex on screen, but we do see the scenes leading up to it and sometimes following it (people make out and undress, revealing undergarments). Couples kiss in other scenes.
While it’s implied that Natalie has sex with Gabe in both scenarios, she only sleeps, with Jake in the one where she isn’t pregnant. We see her and Jake in suggestive positions several times, and they make plans to move in together.
In one set-up, Cara and another woman exit her room post-coitus and kiss. In the other, Cara and this same woman are living together as romantic partners. There are LGBT characters in the backgrounds of some scenes. We see some Pride flags.
Natalie’s parents lament the loss of their “naked Sundays” when Natalie moves back in with them. We hear discussions about condoms. Several women (and a few men) wear outfits showing a lot of skin. People dance suggestively at parties. Two women bump chests and say “ti–y bump!”
We see the tops of Natalie’s thighs as she uses the toilet. And she tells Cara not to look when she takes the pregnancy tests.
In the setting where Natalie is pregnant, she and Gabe discuss the possibility of abortion—and Natalie ultimately decides not to have one.
When Natalie’s dad learns she is pregnant, he waves around a gardening knife at Gabe (though this is coincidence since he was holding the tool before Nat told him the news).
There is a single use of the f-word, as well as 15 uses of the s-word. God’s name is abused the most—more than 35 times. We also hear a couple uses each of “a–,” “b–ch,” “d–mit” and “h—.”
Two people make crude hand gestures to each other.
People drink throughout the film at meals, bars and parties. While waiting for Natalie’s pregnancy test results, Cara drinks several shots of alcohol to calm her nerves. In the scenario where the test comes back negative, Natalie joins her in celebration. (Alcohol also played a role in Natalie and Gabe’s unwise decision to have sex, since they were both drinking from a flask immediately beforehand.)
Natalie and Cara smoke marijuana in a few scenes. People vape at a party.
Though Natalie’s mom eventually comes around, she’s quite mean to her daughter when she first learns about the pregnancy. Later, she tells Natalie that women go through a mourning period when they get pregnant because they have to give up the person they used to be. And while she reassures Natalie that it will get better, it’s still a pessimistic view.
Natalie and Gabe argue when Gabe leaves Rosie overnight with a sitter Nat has never met. (We later learn the sitter was his fiancée’s sister, but Natalie is still upset.)
We see some of the mess when Gabe handles a blowout diaper. A girl leans over the toilet, and it’s implied she vomited just before. People sneak into private parties and steal food.
People often wonder what direction their life would have gone if things had turned out just a bit differently.
What if you hadn’t moved across the country? What if you fell in love with this guy instead of that guy? What if you got an amazing job straight out of college instead of struggling as a barista for five years? What if you hadn’t had a child?
But as Natalie sits, waiting for the results of her pregnancy test, she realizes one thing: she’s going to be OK.
Her goals and her dreams don’t have to be flushed down the toilet just because she may or may not be expecting. Having a kid might slow down the pace that she accomplishes those goals—it might even change her dream—but so could getting fired.
What matters is that she doesn’t give up on herself and that she keeps trying, no matter what.
Unfortunately, Look Both Ways isn’t quite as nice as this sentiment.
God’s name takes the biggest toll with more than 35 abuses. The s-word is heard throughout and there’s a single use of the f-word as well. People drink and smoke marijuana. Cara is gay, and there are other LGBT characters present, too.
And, of course, the elephant in the room is that casual sex. Natalie wouldn’t even be in this mess if she and Gabe hadn’t decided to have premarital sex. In the scenario where she gets pregnant, we hear that the couple’s method of protection failed, and they briefly discuss the possibility of having an abortion (and choose not to). But in the scenario where Natalie moves to L.A., she lives with her boyfriend. We don’t see the act at any point on screen, but there’s enough buildup to steer families clear.
Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her fiancé indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.