Netflix 2022 Parallel Universe What-if Film
The new Netflix film Look Both Ways, starring Lili Reinhart and Danny Ramirez, continues a trend of exploring parallel universe stories in film and literature. We are clearly fascinated by the idea that there may be multiple versions of ourselves splitting off especially at key decision points or times when a circumstance could play out one way—and we wonder what if it had gone the other way.
In Look Both Ways, the circumstance that causes the split in the universe is a pregnancy test: positive or negative. Unlike most stories told with parallel lives, this one overlaps the action within the same frames, and traverses between story lines without much to distinguish them.
Grass is Greener What-If
The light romantic comedy skims the surface of the alternate realities. The characters, not surprisingly, imagine the grass would have been greener if things had gone the other way. The wishful thinking of each version of the main characters at first seems to be the only way in which the what-if story lines relate. What brings them back together ultimately—and seems to be the main message—is that everything works out, regardless of the pregnancy test results. Each path has its own challenges, but both end up with a happily-ever -after conclusion.
Braneworld Scenario Multiverse
As a feel-good romantic comedy, I expected the happy ending and how predictable the film was. The challenge of sorting out which version of their lives we were in was tricky at first, but it got easier to guess as it went along. When I think about the multiverse theories presented by Brian Greene in The Hidden Reality, I think this film as well as my novel The Left Turn both come closest to the braneworld scenario. Imagine “two coexisting but separate three-dimensional entities.” Tricky, isn’t it? But that’s the playground on which we find ourselves in these fictional worlds.
Differences from The Left Turn
What I aim to bring to The Left Turn, and where we significantly veer apart, is that my characters recognize and gradually experience how their own attention and intention affect their lives. It is not just circumstantial or a factor of what other people do, but change is directly a result of a change in perspective and focus.
Another significant difference is that in The Left Turn I’m not attempting to show two comparative “what if” scenarios. I’m focused on what happens when we’re able to make a dramatic shift by letting go of the daily story we may feel trapped in. There’s lots of fertile ground in this playground.