Thursday, July 16, 2009


The highs and lows of life are explored in the film of ‘Look Both Ways”. We must open ourselves to this. Life goes on, even after tragedy and disaster strike. The narrative structure of the novel “Look Both ways” illustrates this by showing that at the same time that people’s lives are torn apart by the grief, the world continues to turn. For example, while Julia suffers in her bubble of numbness, Miriam writes a shopping list for her daughter’s party. When grief subsides, characters such Julia are shown to emerge from their bubble and re-engage with life. Yet the lows are not a part of life to be avoided, instead, they go hand in hand with the highs. It is by living both life’s tragedies and joys that we become fully human. As the photomontage at the films end shows, Nick and Meryl will continue to have high and low moments, from Nick having treatment for his Cancer to Meryl exhibiting her art. The film advocates a philosophy of acceptance of life of not being afraid of what it may bring.

Tragedies occur and they have a serious impact on those involved when they do. The film emphasises the fact that even the face of tragedy and the suffering of those involved that life goes on, in all its ordinariness. The man in the park, who jokes to Nick about his argument with Meryl, prevents the two characters from taking themselves too seriously. The film will not allow any one character’s suffering to eclipse that of the others.

The film has many symbols for life, and one of these main symbols for life is water. Water is a powerful life affirming symbol. Anna’s run through the sprinklers leaves her momentarily care free and smiling, her burdens are lifted and her face is alive with the movement. This scene is depicted with a background of children playing. From this point on Anna seems more positive about her future, it is as if she has been washed of her indecision and given the strengths to cope. Also, when Andy’s children are playing at the fountain, the moods of both father and children appear more buoyant, as though the fresh qualities of water have lifted their spirits.

The symbolic use of water is seen again in the last scenes of the film. A welcome summer shower after a scorching weekend brings with it a sense of renewal, hope and strength for most of the characters. Phil and his family enjoy Jas’ birthday party in a new-found atmosphere of harmony, the old tensions and divisions have been washed away. It is in the rain that Andy finally breaks down and cries, faces his demons and becomes ready to accept his new responsibility. Nick and Meryl overcome their respective fears and renew their relationship, as though the cleansing shower has been given them the courage to face whatever lies ahead. The rain thus not only signals a welcome relief from the oppressive weather, but in a symbolic sense represents growth and life, a fresh start and an invigorating, life-giving and affirming force.

by Chris, Rory & Matt

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