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On a Friday after a horrific train crash, three newsmen in Adelaide must take stock: Nick, a photojournalist, learns he has cancer; Andy, a writer with two children who has a bad relationship with his ex, learns his girlfriend Anna is pregnant; Phil, an editor, realizes he's missing his children's growing up. That afternoon, Meryl, an artist who illustrates sympathy cards and constantly imagines disasters, witnesses a train accident kill a man. At the crash site, she meets Nick, and a relationship flowers over the next three days which makes them both question their lives, wants and needs. Nick's mother, Andy's kids and ex, the dead man's girlfriend, the driver of the train, and his son round out an ensemble of grief and sorrow as each character becomes linked to another through the train accident. Can decisions to act bring hope? Written by
A personal film that does not get to grips with dramatic structure but works nonetheless
There is no reason for a small budget to reduce the aims of a film production, but director Sarah Watt tries to pack too much into her filmic bag in Look Both Ways. Essentially, she just has one story to tell, and a sub-plot is always an excellent counterpoint, but Watt decides to touch on the lives of half a dozen people. The result is that none of their stories are fully developed, and in the absence of commanding central figures, the theme of death threatens to take over as the main character.
The main story, a budding romance between Meryl Lee (Justine Clarke) and Nick (William McInnes) needed more detail: we needed to get to know the characters better, but Watt does not seem to know them well enough to go further. They get introduced to each other, just as we get introduced to them, but we are left wanting to know much more.
It was revealing to learn in the DVD interview with Watt that the photo-montage sequences were assembled by another team altogether. They were effective, but somehow did not fit well with the director's style. The Waifs, and other Aussie pop singers were another intrusion.
Watt is a gifted film-maker, but she should study the art of story-telling, in particular the skill of peeling layers off characters to reveal their inner selves. Too many loose ends were left dangling at the end of this movie, and the pay-off photo-montage sequence was at best ambivalent, and ultimately unnecessary. This is a quirky, enjoyable film, flaws and all, and highly recommended.
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