Look Both Ways is the latest Netflix movie climbing its Top 10 charts. Like many great multiverse movies or movies with alternative universes, the film explores how our choices can lead to different outcomes and lives. Similar to Sliding Doors, Look Both Ways simultaneously shows two different versions of one person's life. Heroine Natalie (Lili Reinhart) finds herself at a party throwing up on the floor. She could be pregnant or sick from gas station sushi. Look Both Ways explores what happens if she’s pregnant and what happens if she’s not. Both options lead to a Look Both Ways ending that’s hopeful, heartwarming, and profound.
The Look Both Ways ending tugs at the heart, but adds enough intrigue to set up some ambiguity about Natalie's life. Let’s explore the Look Both Ways ending and what it could all mean.
What Happened At The End For Austin Natalie?
Natalie comes home to Austin early from a trip to Los Angeles to see Cara (Aisha Dee). She confronts Gabe (Danny Ramirez) about leaving their daughter with a babysitter. He then confesses that he took so long to return home because he proposed to his girlfriend. Feeling heartbroken, Natalie completely focuses on her work.
She ends up with a viral animation, based on her daughter, called Night Owl. She even gets invited to speak on a SXSW panel. Gabe, their daughter, and Natalie’s parents attend to support Natalie.
Gabe performs with a new band, and after his performance, he and Natalie talk. He reveals that he and his fiancé broke up. They go for a walk, where both confess their feelings for one another. Natalie also tells him that she’s tired of worrying about whether they won’t last. Instead, she wants to just go for it. They kiss.
While walking, they see the college house where she first found out she was pregnant. She goes inside to look around, then returns to Gabe. They walk away.
What Happened At The End For LA Natalie?
After some advice from Lucy (Nia Long) about finding her artistic voice, Natalie loses her job. Jake (David Corenswet) is still away making his movie. Feeling frustrated with the distance, Natalie ends things with him. She briefly returns to Texas for a baby shower. After being negative about her life, Cara makes her reevaluate things.
She takes some time to explore her artistic voice and ends up submitting her work to SXSW. Later, she gets notified that her animated film will be screened there. Natalie attends the band performance of Gabe and his original band. He’s now a famous musician. He’s also married with a child on the way. This prompts Natalie to reveal that she once thought she could be pregnant with his child.
Later, Jake finds a way to make it to the screening of her movie as a surprise. They get back together. Lucy also tells Natalie that she was at SXSW for a panel (which is the one Austin Natalie speaks at) and decided to see her movie.
Lucy admits to Natalie that maybe she was too harsh on her and could have done more. Lucy also asks her to send some of her work. After Natalie’s screening, Jake and her go for a walk, ending up at the place where she first took the pregnancy test. She walks around and then returns to Jake.
Did Any Of It Actually Happen?
While both versions of Natalie are looking at the old bathroom where their story diverges down different paths, the movie flashes back to the version of Natalie staring at the pregnancy test. I thought this was just a callback moment to a defining point in both of their lives. However, it could also mean that none of it happened.
Look Both Ways isn’t necessarily one of those satisfying twist-ending movies, as it does leave room for interpretation with the flashback to Natalie in the bathroom scene. It is possible that both lives are just a fantasy. She’s still sitting in the bathroom waiting for the results. Both lives are what ifs and not realities.
Look Both Ways director Wanuri Kahiu explained in a Variety interview her own connection to the story of the film. She mentions that thoughts of alternative paths occupied her consciousness when she found out about her own pregnancy. This detail seems to support the possibility of Natalie not having either reality happen yet.
The flashback to Natalie in the bathroom could show viewers that both of these lives are what Natalie imagines, or it could just be a symbolic way of showing anyone in Natalie’s situation that they’ll be okay.
Both versions of Natalie even look in the mirror and say “you’re okay.” This is her telling herself that she's okay, but also a direct message to any viewers who need to hear those words.
It doesn’t really matter if any of these events happen yet, because Look Both Ways is less about the story and more about its message to the viewers.
Different Paths, Same Results
Look Both Ways is one of those happy, Netflix romantic movies. This means that it wants viewers to leave with a sense of hope and determination about life and love. Natalie's story is just a way to tell a human story that could connect with many. The message of the film feels more important than its actual storyline.
Look Both Ways sets up two different stories. Each feels different and like we’re watching two different main characters until both stories reach the same conclusion. In a Tudum interview, Lili Reinhart points out a very important fact: they’re the same person:
This may seem obvious, but it’s important to note because of the message of the film. Who someone is at one point in their life is still the same person they were at another. Their hopes, dreams, experiences, etc. have some overlap. Therefore, their wants and desires may still be the same, but life could have made them lose that spark.
Look Both Ways is definitely also a movie about passions and dreams. One message is to not give up on dreams because your life may have taken an unexpected detour. Both versions of Natalie end up exploring their animation dreams and find some success with them. They also both find love, of the romantic and familial kind.
In the same Variety interview, Kahiu mentioned hoping that the film inspires others to continue to follow their heart, even if there are a lot of obstacles in the way. Look Both Ways is definitely one of the inspiring female empowerment films.
The Look Both Ways ending also has another message about embracing the unknown. Natalie starts the film as a planner, but in both universes, her plans take detours. She has to figure out what to do next in both scenarios.
Life is never simple. It’s often complicated, messy, and difficult, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s about taking obstacles and turning them into opportunities. The Look Both Ways ending plays a version of “We Are Young” by fun. This choice seems to tell viewers to let go of expectations for one's life and make the best of their situations. Sometimes, there is no one right path toward happiness.
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Spent most of my life in various parts of Illinois, including attending college in Evanston. I have been a life long lover of pop culture, especially television, turned that passion into writing about all things entertainment related. When I'm not writing about pop culture, I can be found channeling Gordon Ramsay by kicking people out the kitchen.