Look Both Ways (2005)
Justine Clarke, William McInnis. Writer-Director: Sarah Watt. Australian.
This is a quiet contemplation on how we face death, as individuals and as a society. McInnis, a strapping, healthy-looking newspaper photographer, discovers he has runaway cancer and only a short while to live. He meets Clarke, a starving artist, at the site of an accident where she saw a man run over by a train. They are attracted to each other for different reasons. He searches for comfort and intimacy to assuage his terrifying prospect. She looks to satisfy her loneliness and maybe to quiet her biological clock. But they don’t speak these things to each other. An interesting technique is that Clarke’s character imagines dreadful disasters happening to herself and others, at every moment. These imaginations are depicted in intercut penciled or water color animations. As she looks at a train, we see a spectacular train wreck. At the pool we see swimmers chomped in half by sharks. It is an innovative way to show a character’s thoughts, but it is poorly used, as her obsession with horrible accidental death does not play into the main story. The technique works a little better with McInnis’ character, who tries to imagine what he did to “catch” cancer. There are also some loosely related substories. The driver of the train that struck the man is overcome with grief and eventually delivers his condolences to the widow in a touching scene. A colleague of McInnis at the newspaper discovers his girlfriend is pregnant and is reluctant to accept responsibility as he struggles to manage his two young children and argue with his ex-wife. The movie is quiet and slow, but very well acted, especially by Clarke, and the themes of confronting both birth and death are humanly compelling. And it is nice to see Australia (Adelaide, I think it was). The music was Aussie pop, lost on me, but mostly inoffensive. This is a zero-budget indie that will be hard to find, but worth looking for.