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LOOK BOTH WAYS

Director: SARAH WATT

AUSTRALIA • 2005 • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 100 MIN


AUSTRALIAN DIRECTOR SARAH WATT’S FIRST FEATURE LOOK BOTH WAYS USES HER BACKGROUND IN ANIMATION TO GET INSIDE HER CHARACTERS’ HEADS IN STRIKINGLY IMAGINATIVE FASHION.
Cash-strapped illustrator Meryl (Justine Clarke) is just back in scorching Adelaide after her father’s funeral, and thoughts of mortality are preying upon her, brought to life by animated inserts in the style of her watercolour artworks. Photographer Nick (William McInnes) isn’t having it so easy either; while his shot of a distressed young woman receiving the news of her partner’s demise in a train crash makes the front page, he’s still reeling from the diagnosis of testicular cancer—as we see in the highly appropriate photo-montages conveying his troubled inner musings. All of which could easily give the wrong impression that this is a grim old piece of work, but the reality is very different. As we watch these two lives intersect with each other and weave through the fortunes of crisis-hit colleagues (a surprise pregnancy, a father’s feelings of alienation), Watt’s film never succumbs to gloomy generalisations, instead drawing its strength from its everyday characters’ ability to keep on bumbling through, no matter what seems to be lying ahead. Although lauded by the Australian Film Institute and the Cannes critics, the audience awards it has won on the festival circuit are the strongest indicator of the film’s ability to connect with viewers, tackling sensitive issues with a characteristic no-nonsense Aussie wit. Lovely performances from the two leads set the seal on a potent serio-comic drama which has us seeing life through new eyes.—Trevor Johnston.

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