MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 05/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Meryl (a smart, put-upon, long hippie-skirt wearing, Justine Clark) daydreams about death and disaster and these occurrences take physical shape via animated scenes that Australian Director/Writer Sarah Watt intersperses throughout her volatile, crazy, "Magnolia" without the pretense, "Look Both Ways." On paper, these animated sequences may sound tricky and maybe too obvious but in reality, they seem natural, a little crazy, maybe...but completely natural in this world that Watt has created. One day Meryl sees a man run over by a train: it's her worst nightmare come to life. Does it freak her out? Does it send her into a catatonic fit? Does it send her to hospital? Nope. She accepts it as something that was "meant to be": a mantra that shapes the rest of this tremendously affecting, heartfelt though oftentimes surrealistic film. Watt structures the film along the lines of several other films like "Short Cuts" or "Nashville": intertwining stories featuring others affected by the train accident: a photographer, Nick (good-guy, emotionally available, William McInnes), Newspaper writer, Andy (an emotionally unavailable, un-communicative except in his writing, Anthony Hayes), the Train Driver (a destroyed, Andreas Sobik) and their significant others. "Look Both Ways" is something that all Mothers tell their children. It means be careful, take care, I need You: there's always something out there looking to hurt you. But here it also means: Look closely, don't be fooled by the surface of things... things are not always what they seem; there are always at least two ways to evaluate any situation. Watt shares the slightly out-of-kilter, skewed towards the witty and intelligent world view of her fellow Aussie film makers and she imbues "Look Both Ways" with both an open hearted sense of fun and a profound, natural love of her characters and their strange but always human ways. "
Crash WANTS to be this good
Brendan M. Howard | Kansas, USA | 10/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In one of this Australian drama's best scenes, two characters obsessed with death look a different way. One is an artist, Meryl Lee (Clarke), who turns everyday events in her imagination into fatal accidents and crimes after the sudden passing of her father. The other is a globe-trotting photographer, Nick (McInnes), who in the movie's first few minutes is diagnosed with testicular cancer that's traveled to his lungs. He starts seeing, in photographic montages, terrible sickness and death. The two are awkwardly flirting in Meryl's apartment after unexpected encounters at the scene of an accident and the next day on the street. They both anxiously confide in each other that they see death when they look at people, then just as anxiously ask if they see death when they look at each other. Both answer no. In just a few days' time, their relationship grows just as suddenly as the cancer tumors Nick imagines bursting from his body and the faces of strangers.
But that's just one piece of the film's narrative, which also boasts a Crash-like intermingling of people, events, hopes and fears with unplanned pregnancies, reformed workaholics, terrible grief and familial reconciliation. However, unlike Crash -- a film about racism that beat viewers over the head with its message -- Look Both Ways tackles the ultimate equalizer, death, with gentle touches and a believable dialogue and story.
The film's message and satisfying happy ending? We can't conquer death, but we can learn to live with it if we look both ways: be cautious and healthy, take risks and be happy. "
Look At Death But Don't Dwell On It
B. Merritt | WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California | 12/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Death is a touchy subject to broach regardless of the medium in which you choose to expose it. It's uncomfortable to even think about yet touches us all on many levels, and that is why LOOK BOTH WAYS succeeds.
Building on death in thought-provoking, sad, and often hilarious terms, Look Both Ways binds a small Australian community together after the death of a man upon the local railroad tracks. Meryl (Justine Clarke, DANNY DECKCHAIR) witnesses the horrible event and summons the authorities. The local media shows up, including photojournalist Nick (William McInnes, IRRESISTIBLE) who's just been diagnosed with a rapidly spreading cancer. Also on the scene is Nick's newspaper partner Andy (Anthony Hayes, NED KELLY) and eventually the deceased's wife Julia (Daniella Farinacci, BROTHERS).
Meryl sees the event as just another death, something that fill her thoughts and her paintings on a daily basis. Her vivid imagination surrounding death is illustrated (literally) via laughingly silly animated sequences that are sure to tickle your dark funny bone. Photojournalist Nick sees himself on the railroad tracks, having just received a medical death sentence of metastatic testicular cancer. Newspaper writer Andy battles to understand life and death while struggling to be a good father to his divorced children, and the discovery that his new girlfriend is pregnant with an unwanted child. Widow Julia tries to understand the seemingly meaninglessness of her husband's death as flowers flow into her home and she's forced to come to grips with such a sudden loss.
Where Look Both Ways succeeds is in its delivery. Each person views death under their own unique umbrella, but are bound together by this one tragic event. Meryl and Nick become oddball lovers during a one night stand, while newsman Andy tries to sort through his chaotic and merciless lifestyle. Widow Julia and the engineer who was driving the train are two of the more interesting cases within the story, as they have no speaking parts until the very end, but are given ample screen time which speaks volumes on its own.
The message of the flick is simple but not forced: look at death both ways. See it as a necessity but don't dwell on it. There is hope and fear within it, operating not at opposite ends of the spectrum, but as a gauge on how to live life without death looming ever present on one's mind.
Meryl, the one who the film is mostly about, learns this lesson the hard way, coming to terms with her own fate, and that of Nick who's cancerous life is destined to plow into hers with the force of a padded sledgehammer."
Daniel B. Clendenin | www.journeywithjesus.net | 01/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player/ That struts and frets his hour upon the stage/ And then is heard no more: it is a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/ Signifying nothing." So wrote Shakespeare in Macbeth. Whether he was right is the question that every character in this film struggles to answer. The plot revolves around a train wreck, and how the various people related to that wreck and to the newspaper that reported the story (the editor, a reporter, the wife, the train worker), interpret the event. Was it suicide? Negligence? Fate? Murder? The artist Meryl hallucinates about this and many other Freudian fears (cleverly represented by animation). She meets the photo-journalist Nick who has his own existential fears, not the least of which is his cancer diagnosis. In the end their love moves beyond the many limits that life and death impose upon our fragile existence."
Look for This Movie
W. A. Strong | Portland, OR USA | 11/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this movie after seeing Justine Clark in Danny Deckchair. I really liked her performance, but I wasn't prepared for this. She is so different in this movie. Of course the movie is SO different from anything else I've watched. This movie is not for everyone. But if you like "different" movies, especially if they're about death and life, then this could be for you. This is a comedy of handling life and and all its aspects. Love, loss, illness, birth and yes, a death that ties it all together. Its also a film about over coming fear. The animation makes the movie. Ibsen or Tolstoy would have spent hours describing what the animation does in carefully woven sequences in a few seconds. They tell the story behind the story, revealing much about how we handle situations, real and perceived. If you think life is about taking a chance, take a chance on this movie."