Look Both Ways

“It’s probably the best Australian drama since Lantana, but best of all, an indication that our local industry might soon be climbing out of the messy borough” – Clint Morris


Look Both Ways

William McInnes, Justine Clarke, Anthony Hayes, Lisa Flanagan, Daniela Farinacci, Andrew S. Gilbert, Sacha Horler.

Slow and steady may win the race, but did anyone care to notice that the unpretentious tortoise is actually a more appealing character to watch anyway?

Whilst the featureless and bombastic hare bolts to the finish line, the outsized tortoise gives one time to keep up with him. He’s also got – a lot more character than his antagonist, is appealing because he’s not so sure of himself, and principally, doesn’t seem to be interested in winning no race. He’s just happy to be in the game.

The same parallel can be applied to a Hollywood blockbuster vs. Sarah Watt’s intriguing new Australian film. It’s slow, it’s unusual, and it mightn’t be as full of life as the film showing in the next theatre – but boy, it’s a lot more interesting.

Set over the course of a weekend and fixing on a string of characters that are all inter-connected in one way or another, the film’s lone purpose is to fix on the different ways we grieve, and in particular, adapt to bereavement and loss.

Newspaper photographer Nick (William McInnes) has just found out that he’s got testicular cancer – and sees it as his death certificate, Meryl (Justine Clarke) is returning from her father’s funeral and had nothing but death – envisioning herself being killed in numerous ways – on her mind. Through chance, they meet up.

Meantime, Andy (Anthony Hayes), an embittered journalist who’s one temper tantrum short of having an aneurism, becomes even more confused when his Anna (Lisa Flanagan) announces she’s pregnant.

As the weekend progresses, and the temperature rises, this clique of dissimilar folk must battle with their issues of life and death.

“Look Both Ways” mightn’t be the film to put some much needed air in the flat tyres of the Australian Film Industry – but it is a sign that things might be changing for the better. Seems we’ve returned to captivating character pieces and films that put script before star.

Not that a couple of the talents in this don’t deserve to be stars after their performances here. William McInnes (“SeaChange”, “Blue Heelers”) gives the performance of his career – immersing himself in the emotion and distraught of his downtrodden character. In addition, Justine Clarke (Home and Away) proves she’s learnt a lot since leaving the world of TV soapies and turns in a gutsy, highly credible performance. Best of all, both McInnes and Clarke seem to have some real chemistry.

In their respective support roles, Anthony Hayes, Lisa Flanagan, Andrew Gilbert and Daniela Farinacci are as in-tune as a well-oiled piano. Their emotions seem real, their motivations seem levelheaded, and their characters – purely unforgettable.

The real star of the show though is Sarah Watt. Her script and direction is as strong as Tarzan grip. She’s concocted something quite unique – everything from the visuals, to the character motivations, the way they amalgamate, to simply capturing the idiosyncrasies of every-day life – is spot-on. Not everyone will be hooked by some of her brave choices (and truth be told, a couple of people walked out of the screening I was in – about ten minutes in), but those with a penchant for the visual-stirring and anarchic storytelling will be in Valhalla. What starts out as a seemingly austere, near-depressing film results in something exactly the contrary: seemingly Watt’s plan right from the outset.

“Look Both Ways” is a highlight for Australian Cinema. It’s probably the best Australian drama since Lantana, but best of all, an indication that our local industry might soon be climbing out of the messy borough.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris