Natalie (Lili Reinhart) is an ambitious college senior with her future mapped out. But after a one-night stand leads to vomiting, she decides to take a pregnancy test.
“Look Both Ways,” a deluded Netflix drama, stages this moment as a crossroads. It envisions divergent futures for our heroine: one in which her test is negative and another in which it is positive.
Mimicking the thought experiment conducted in “Sliding Doors,” the movie intercuts scenes from these two fates. The first finds Natalie on a road trip to Los Angeles with her bestie, Cara (Aisha Dee), where she pursues a job in animation. At the same time, a parallel Natalie grimly resigns herself to motherhood and moves home to raise the baby alongside her chagrined parents (Andrea Savage and Luke Wilson).
In a handy cinematic shorthand, the director, Wanuri Kahiu, distinguishes between the two realms through color, applying reds to the set design of Natalie’s exhilarating Hollywood adventures and blues to that of her lonelier mommy time in Texas.
That an accessible third course of action — an abortion — goes essentially ignored by both Natalie and the screenwriter, April Prosser, is a mind-boggling factor in this otherwise predictable movie. It’s jarring to see Natalie’s unplanned pregnancy introduced as a cool dose of reality rather than decision to be made, and the movie’s post-Roe release only adds insult to injury.
Never mind that “Look Both Ways” seems to posit that, for women, child rearing and a career are in relative opposition — when Natalie comes to a fork in the road, the movie hardly lets her look both ways. It bulldozes her down one path, and then the other.