Directed by Wanuri Kahiu, Netflix’s ‘Look Both Ways’ follows the story of a girl named Natalie. She comes to a crossroads when she takes a pregnancy test on the night of her college graduation. This is where her life takes two different paths. In one, the test turns out positive and she decides to have the baby and put her career on the back burner. In the other timeline, the test is negative and she happily goes to LA to pursue her dreams. While the film is certainly fictional, it has the workings of a story that seems cut out from a bigger narrative. Considering that a lot of Netflix films are book adaptations, you must be wondering if ‘Look Both Ways’ is based on a book as well. If so, here’s what you should know about it.
Is Look Both Ways a Book Adaptation?
No, ‘Look Both Ways’ is not based on a book. It is an original screenplay written by April Prosser. The story focuses on the journey of Natalie, and even though her story takes two different directions, we discover that things turn out well for her, no matter what path her life takes. For actress Lili Reinhart, who plays the protagonist while also serving as the producer of the film, it was this feel-good aspect of the story that captured her attention. “I read the script over two-and-a-half years ago and I honestly just thought it was so heartwarming and I really loved how in both lives for this young woman there was no right or wrong path, there was no bad life, so I just thought ‘This girl ends up being okay in both lives’, and that was really reassuring to me,” she said on Today.
For director Wanuri Kahiu, for whom this is the first venture in Hollywood as a director, the story was relatable considering that she went through a similar thing with her own pregnancy, which is the point where her life changed. “I felt it [the movie] was partially my life, in the sense that I remember the exact moment I realized I was pregnant and how I literally saw my life take a parallel route. I believe in parallel lives and multiple existences, and it really appealed to me,” she told Variety.
In the film, the protagonist’s life takes two different routes and in both of them, she has her fair share of struggles and heartbreaks, though they look quite different from each other. By bringing this story to the audience, the filmmakers wanted to send out the message of living one’s life without any regrets, no matter what decisions one makes. Because the critical event of the story is set around the pregnancy of the lead character, it also holds a special significance in today’s America.
While the script had been around for a couple of years, ‘Look Both Ways’ was released after the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. The timing of it was not lost on the director. “I’m so devastated by what happened with Roe v. Wade because it affects so many people, not only in the U.S. but all the policies that have been funded as a result internationally. Even though this film is not necessarily about choice, I love that it tells any young woman that regardless of which way your life goes, if you truly follow your heart, you’ll be good. You’re making the right decision for yourself,” she added.
Considering all this, we can say that while the film is not based on a true story or a book, it takes a very realistic approach to Natalie’s choices, and offers a very heartwarming and life-affirming message to the viewers.