First Impressions

Look Again
(Canada, 95 min.)
Written and directed by Daniel O’Connor
Starring: Anand Rajaram, Brittany Allen, Joel Keller, Adriano Sobretodo, Jr., Christian Potenza, Darryl Dinn
Anand Rajaram as Amit and Joel Keller as Brad in Look Again.

“That’s the problem with first impressions,” growl Patty and Selma between cigarettes on The Simpsons. “You only get one.”

First impressions are inevitable as we glances at new faces and try to determine friends from foes in an instant. Suppose, though, that a person could have a reliable way to tell the good people from the bad ones without ever having to interact.

This topsy-turvy premise fuels writer/director Daniel O’Connor’s lo-fi comedy Look Again. The man making the snap judgements is Amit Gupta (Anand Rajaram), who wants to end it all after too many people he trusted, like his co-worker and his girlfriend, screwed him over big time. Two guardian angels appear just in time, though, and before one can say It’s a Wonderful Life (there’s even an angel named Clarence as a nod to the Christmas classic’s influence on the film), Amit gets some snazzy specs of which Jimmy Stewart could only dream.

These glasses, see, act like X-ray specs that reveal a person’s inner character. They glow with a pink-like haze if a person is good. They fuzz a dark and ominous static if a person is bad. Amit, ready to take on the world, dons these hipster-like accessories and approaches new faces with fresh confidence.

Look Again unfolds the speculative scenario with light humour as a mix of situational comedy lets Amit encounter the range of social life that hinges on these split-second decisions of a person’s character. Whether it’s hiring a new employee or making a move in the dating game, one never really knows a person without spending much time with him or her. However, if Amit finds they have the right hue, he can advance without caution.

His glasses give him the right tip about Tanya (Brittany Allen), for example. She looks like a nice girl, reading her iPad invitingly in a Toronto indie coffee shop, but looks can be deceiving. With the help of his new tool, Amit makes a move that he might otherwise be too bashful to attempt. Tanya, it turns out, really is a nice girl and they hit it off immediately.

Tanya, however, doesn’t take the same perspective on Amit’s glasses. Most dates would run screaming if someone said that two angels gave him magic glasses, but Look Again isn’t a mirror. It’s a musing.

These new glasses actually prevent Amit from seeing the true person, Tanya argues. She makes a case that people aren’t static beings. They change, they grow, and they learn from their mistakes. Sure, people only get one first impression, but they shouldn’t define a person for a lifetime. While this comedy seems eclectic and unassuming at first glance and proceeds to live-up to its forecast, first impressions rarely hold in real life.

Look Again offers a charming comedy that asks audiences to confront the ways in which they perceive their neighbours. The film lets its cast of characters, mostly offbeat and quirky players, like Amit’s mom (Ronica Sajnani), who thinks she’s super sporty just because she drinks Gatorade, ask Amit to see beyond superficial judgements. The performances are mostly fun and low-key, although one face in the third act is unbearably annoying (even if intentionally so), while Rajaram provides an amiable anti-hero of the Don McKellar variety. O’Connor also assembles a notably diverse cast and ensures that the characters of Look Again reflect the range of Toronto locations that give the film much life.

Look Again opens in Toronto at the Kingsway on June 24.