Saturday, September 17, 2005

Look Both Ways (Sarah Watt)

Look Both Ways (Sarah Watt) 36 – This sub-Magnolia ensemble piece is too contrived to really work. Centering on a train wreck that left a man killed, the movie improbably presents the event as a central opportunity for soul-searching in its entire sad sack cast. Without much in the way of originality, it features disconnected characters trying to overcome themselves as they tentatively work toward emotional bonds. It’s been done a million times before, and usually been done better. The catharsis, when it finally comes, feels awfully forced because the initial crisis felt so forced.

Stylistically, Watt shows mild promise. This is her first feature film, following a series of animated shorts. That background makes itself apparent in frequent, short animated scenes that show her lead heroine’s daydreams. Her leading male character, a photographer, similarly has his interior anxieties conveyed through brief, rapid-fire photomontages. When their inevitable sex scene occurs, Watt crosscuts it with snippets of both of their interior apprehensions, resulting in a flurry of anxiety. Unfortunately, few scenes are so inspired. The culmination in particular feels like a direct rip-off of Magnolia. With a sub-Mann folkie warbling on the soundtrack, Watt crosscuts from one character’s low point to another, trying to make us understand the frustrations of coping with the world. It should be a powerful moment, but the near-lack of connection with these characters completely nullifies it.

1 comment:

Emma said...

I must say I totally DISAGREE with you Jeremy. I am studying Sarah Watt’s film Look Both Ways and think she did a well done job of portraying real life characters facing there fears, whether they are real or imagined. Yes it may be similar to Magnolia but who cares. Most films these days do lack a bit of originality. It’s like comparing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Wolf Creek and saying Wolf Creek was terrible because of the similarities.
And im not sure you’re understanding the situations that the “sad sack cast” are in. Meryl’s father has recently died, Nick has just found out he has cancer after not long loosing his father to the disease and because of this Phil realizes how important life is and makes some changes, Anna has told Andy shes pregnant with a child neither of them are prepared for, The train driver is trying to deal with the fact that a man was killed by the train he was driving which he blames himself for, and Julia is grieving for the loss of her partner and coping with her picture being on the front page of the local newspaper for everyone to know about. Sarah Watt wrote and directed this film knowing what most of these characters are feeling from past experiences in her own life. So id like to hear that if you were in one of these situations you would act any different, these are real life problems dealt in a real life manner not in some Hollywood coated way.