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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
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.
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