Netflix’s ‘Look Both Ways’ follows the story of Natalie which starts on the night when she takes a pregnancy test. The timeline splits into the one where the test is negative and the other where the test is positive. As expected, becoming a mother changes her life radically, though interestingly, a few important things remain the same. One of the key things that the film shows through Natalie’s story is that life takes its own course, no matter how much you plan stuff. Everything happens in its own time, no matter what path you take. It becomes clear when by the end of her journey, we see both of Natalie’s lives converge to the same point. The last scene adds another layer to the story. If you are wondering what it means for Natalie, here’s what you should know. SPOILERS AHEAD
Look Both Ways Plot Synopsis
Natalie wants to go to LA after graduation. She has an entire five-year plan laid out for herself, starting with her move to LA to establish herself as an animator and then making movies. Considering that this is their last night in college, she and Gabe engage in an act of spontaneity that leads Natalie to take a pregnancy check. She is very nervous about the outcome, considering that all of her plans hinge on this one moment. If she is pregnant and chooses to have the baby, she can say goodbye to becoming a director in five years. To her relief, the test comes out negative, at least in one timeline.
In the other timeline, the test comes out positive, and after a brief discussion with Gabe, Natalie decides to have the baby. She goes back home to her parents, who are shocked and also angry because their own plans are thrown off track now. Eventually, however, they cool down and let Natalie stay with them to help her with the baby. Gabe, too, stays in the picture, taking his fair share of responsibilities. Meanwhile, in the parallel world, Natalie goes to LA with her best friend, Cara. After a meet-cute with a young producer named Jake, she gets a job with her idol, Lucy. She feels like she is on track, but little does she know that plans have a way of going awry.
Look Both Ways Ending: Which Timeline is Real?
While there are a thousand possibilities to how one’s life can turn out, the fact remains that all of us get to live just one version of it. The same holds true for Natalie. In the beginning, based on a life-altering event, we see her living two different lives. In the end, however, only one of them can be true. As both versions of Natalie tell her that it’s going to be okay, we can’t help but wonder which of those routes her life takes, after all.
The events in the film, in both timelines, take place over the course of five years, which, curiously, intersects with the timeline that Natalie had imagined for herself in her five-year plan. In both the timelines, she ends up in the same place at the same time, though with very different experiences. Natalie was nervous about the results of the pregnancy test because she feared that it will derail her plans. However, in the timeline where she’s not pregnant, we see that her plans still don’t follow through.
While she succeeds in getting a job for Lucy, she is not able to show her portfolio to her boss for a very long time. This was when she’d already expected to be an established animator by now. Falling in love had also been in the plan, which is what happens for her with Jake. However, she didn’t factor in the possibility that they might break up, which is what happens when Jake gets the funding for his movie and has to move to Nova Scotia for six months, and more.
A similar thing happens for the pregnant Natalie who decides to keep the baby. While she feels like this is the right thing to do at the moment, she can’t help but feel sorry for herself for not being able to go to LA and live the life she wanted. She was supposed to move forward in her life, but now, she is back home and has a child to take care of. Soon enough, motherhood starts to take a toll on her and she worries that she doesn’t have a life anymore. All of her revolves around her daughter, Rosie.
Her love life is also in shambles. She’s clearly in love with Gabe, but she doesn’t want to risk the balanced friendship that they have right now, for the sake of Rosie. Because what if they get together and then break up? How will that affect their daughter? She is also unable to entrust Rosie to someone else’s care, which is why she can’t be with her friends. But then, things take a turn for the better when after all the delaying and hindrances and excuses, Natalie finally goes back to drawing and employs the experience of being a mother to her art. She creates her next project surrounding Rosie and submits it to SXSW.
Parallel to this, the other Natalie, after being told by Lucy that her work is unoriginal, returns home and tries to find her voice. After a lot of work, she comes up with something that she submits to SXSW. In both timelines, Natalie’s different projects turn out to be a success for her. So, even after she didn’t follow the five-year plan in both cases, she still manages to make a movie and send it out into the world. On top of that, she also finds love in both cases. Jake returns to see her work at the festival, where they both reignite their relationship. In the other timeline, Natalie decides to give it a go with Gabe, finally confessing her feelings for him.
After all this, she goes back to the place where it all started for her. Looking at herself now, she tells her past self that it’s going to be okay. That no matter what happens now, whether or not she gets pregnant, her life will turn out exactly how it’s supposed to be. And even if it takes another path, she will always end up where she’s supposed to be. So, no matter how many plans she makes, there’s no guarantee that life will follow suit. It will take its own course, and while it might scare her, doing something that she hadn’t expected, taking a path that she knows nothing about, she’ll be able to figure it out.
In the end, we see the original Natalie, still holding the pregnancy test in her hand. We don’t get to see the results, which means that things could go either way. She could be pregnant, and she could choose to have the baby. And despite her fears of losing her dreams, she might still get them. Or, she could choose not to have the baby and then go to LA, and her life could take a different turn. Or, the test could come out negative, relieving her of the responsibility of making the tough choice, and going in another direction and having a different life and career. No matter what happens from here, the only thing that matters is that she just has to struggle through the difficult parts and dedicate herself to her dreams, no matter what, and not be disheartened if life throws something unexpected along the way. Everything will turn out for the better in the end.
By not giving us a concrete answer, the film leaves the decision about Natalie’s fate to the audience. She has the option of living two different lives. Which one do you want for her? More importantly, which one would you want for yourself if you were in her place?