‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ is a newly released A24 action sci-fi movie directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. The story mainly revolves around Evelyn (played by Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese immigrant who settled in the United States with her husband Waymond (played by Ke Huy Quan), daughter Joy (played by Stephanie Hsu), and father Gong Gong (played by James Hong). The movie tragically describes the struggles of being an immigrant family in the United States by including plots regarding language barriers, culture clashes, and identity struggles. The most prominent culture clash is told through Evelyn’s initial struggles with adapting to Joy’s Americanized lifestyle, which traumatizes Joy.
However, Evelyn also has her own issues: she has given up all her dreams of becoming an artist to start a family with Waymond. She is reminded by the mean IRS inspector, Deirdre Beaubeirdra (played by Jamie Lee Curtis), that her hobbies are not careers and that she will seize her laundromat (her only true accomplishment). This takes a toll on Evelyn as she takes a risk and unknowingly jumps into a parallel universe. This marks the beginning of ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ with the clash of dreams and reality; and the start of the hunt for Jobu Tupaki (a maniac attempting to destroy all universes) in the multiverse.
Generation Gaps and Cultural Differences
While there can always be differences between different generations’ ideologies, cultural differences can increase the disagreements between individuals. ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ portrays this familiar trauma via the family’s love-lacking relationship dynamics. While Joy was ready to come out to his grandpa as a lesbian and introduce her girlfriend, Evelyn (her mom) believed otherwise. As Joy struggles with her Chinese, Evelyn tells Gong Gong (the grandpa) that Becky (Joy’s girlfriend) is just a friend. Evelyn explains that Gong Gong would never approve of the relationship because of the generation gap. However, Joy disagrees as she convinces herself that Evelyn does not approve of her and that she is estranged from her family.
It is apparent that Joy is depressed since she does not have her desired relationship with her mom. According to Evelyn, the connection she has developed with Joy is normal and healthy. Because of how she was raised, Evelyn believes that all mothers normally focus on more practical matters such as taking care of money-related issues, cooking, reminding Joy to visit the family more often, and telling her to eat well. However, she does not realize that Joy just wants to have a truthful and heartfelt conversation, getting in the way of forming Joy’s ideal mother-daughter relationship.
Throughout, many characters reveal that they do not want to belong to their reality. Joy shows many signs of depression about her family situation; after her first scene with Evelyn, she expresses her wishes to sever ties and cries. In ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, Joy’s depressed state is told through more science fiction elements. (Major spoiler!) When Jobu Tupaki becomes one with Joy, she explains her worldview, making it clear that she has lost hope in everyone and everything. This is why she wants to destroy all universes and wants to be sucked into the Bagel to fulfill her wish to disappear from the whole multiverse. However, Evelyn shows her that there is a lot to live for, that there is a lot of love in the world; and that all the good and bad parts of life need to be appreciated.
Evelyn had lost interest in her personal life and did not want to go on with her lifestyle before she was introduced to the multiverse. She had a hard time listening to Joy’s struggles, paying attention to Deirdre in the IRS office, and noticing that Waymond was divorcing her. After experiencing worlds without members of her family, Evelyn feels incomplete. Talking to different versions of Waymond and Jobu Tupaki lets Evelyn understand the importance of receiving and giving love.
Be Kind and Love
In the beginning of ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’, Evelyn displays her annoyance with Waymond’s carefree and soft attitude towards life. That’s why when she finds the divorce papers Waymond has filled out, she convinces herself that she is better off without Waymond. This is confirmed while she travels through different universes, as she gets exposed to different realities where she had never gone to the US with Waymond and sees that she could have been a successful artist in China. The initial ego-boost and happiness that these realities gave to Evelyn slowly faded away.
She realizes that Alpha Waymond (the first out-of-her-reality Waymond she met) is more important for her contentment with life. Towards the end of the movie, Waymond stresses that violence can never fix anything; but acceptance and trying to understand each other is the best way we can help others. Although he had tried to explain this to Evelyn ever since he was introduced, finally after deciding to listen, she understands that Waymond keeps her grounded and makes her simply happy. Seeing Waymond fixing her issues by being kind and caring, in a non-biased perspective, makes Evelyn fall in love with Waymond again.
Evelyn understands the importance of love through the magical three words: hot dog hands. Through her relationship with Deidre in an alternate universe where everyone has hot dog hands, she comprehends how love can change a person for good. She learns to empathize with the mean IRS lady and understand the cruciality of giving love.
Every decision we make in this world affects everyone’s future.
The main conclusion of ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ is: “nothing matters”. In this chaotic world, the only thing certain is that love is the answer. Every decision we make in this world affects everyone’s future. We shouldn’t let our fears take over our decisions and confidently try to make our dreams come true. We need to act freely and forget about the boundaries that our society has created. Evelyn understands this after seeing multiple versions of herself where she has been successful at one of her hobbies. Although this perspective can seem negative, as Joy believes, it just truly means that life is short and that we should make the best out of it. However, we should never forget to be kind and loving towards everyone while doing so.
Editor: Alexa Ciociu