Look Both Ways

Australian filmmaker Sarah Watt's fine feature debut is a quirky but moving tale of death, disaster, catastrophe and cancer — it's also a love story and often quite funny. Lonely greeting-card illustrator Meryl (newcomer Justine Clarke) is returning home from her father's funeral when she witnesses a horrible accident: While trying to prevent his dog from...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Australian filmmaker Sarah Watt's fine feature debut is a quirky but moving tale of death, disaster, catastrophe and cancer — it's also a love story and often quite funny. Lonely greeting-card illustrator Meryl (newcomer Justine Clarke) is returning home from her father's funeral when she witnesses a horrible accident: While trying to prevent his dog from crossing the tracks into the path of an oncoming train, a man is himself struck and killed. The sight only confirms Meryl's view of the world as a dangerous place, filled with unseen peril and worst-case scenarios just waiting to unfold — convictions strengthened by her own father's sudden death and by news of a terrible commuter-train crash that's buried 22 people in a crumbling tunnel. Meryl has only to close her eyes for her mind's eye to fill with vivid visions of shark attacks, train wrecks, sudden falls and fatal assaults, and she clings to a feeble hope that maybe these accidents happen for a reason. News of the man killed while trying to rescue his dog reaches Nick (William McInnes), a photojournalist for The Southern Mail, just after he's learned that he has testicular cancer that may have already spread to his lungs. Before he can leave work, Nick is collared by cynical reporter Andy (Anthony Hayes), who sees hidden agendas behind most things and suspects "accidents" are often really suicides. Andy talks Nick into accompanying him to the site with his camera, and they arrive in time for Nick to interview Meryl, then photograph the dead man's wife (Daniela Farinacci) at the moment she begins to realize that something has happened to her husband — a powerful photo that makes it to the Mail's front. Still in shock over his diagnosis and reminded of his father's protracted and painful death from cancer, Nick begins seeing death wherever he looks. But when he runs into Meryl by chance, he decides to give romance one last shot. An intensely visual filmmaker, Watt communicates more with images than dialogue and cleverly maintains a consistent visual style for her two main characters: Meryl's apocalyptic visions of death and destruction are seen as animated watercolors, while Nick's thoughts about how and why he got cancer and his potential future appear as rapid photomontage. The morbid theme notwithstanding, this is by no means a downbeat film, and it ends with the rather hopeful thought that for every disaster there's also a chance for survival.

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  • Released: 2006
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Australian filmmaker Sarah Watt's fine feature debut is a quirky but moving tale of death, disaster, catastrophe and cancer — it's also a love story and often quite funny. Lonely greeting-card illustrator Meryl (newcomer Justine Clarke) is returning home f… (more)

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