If you haven’t seen Everything, Everywhere, All At Once (EEAAO), you should, and soon.
Everything, Everywhere arrived in studios to little fanfare on March 30. It didn’t get a ton of marketing, which makes sense for a smaller indie film from A24, so word of mouth put me in my seat at the theatre. Not many, including me, were expecting this one as an Oscar contender.
Boy, were we wrong.
EEAAO is one of those films that takes a minute to hook you, but when it does, it keeps your attention until the very end. The movie follows Evelyn Wang, played by Michelle Yeoh, a Chinese immigrant trying to juggle her laundromat, a husband trying to divorce her, and a teenaged daughter — Joy — desperate for acceptance of her sexuality. As soon as the film is done introducing us to the characters, it gets trippy, and fast.
Evelyn’s husband Waymond (played by an amazing Ke Huy Quan) suddenly becomes Alpha Waymond, a Waymond from a parallel “Alpha” universe who explains that yes, parallel universes are a thing, and Evelyn’s universe is in danger. It gets a bit complicated here, but through some exposition dumping and fantastic action scenes, we find out that a villain named Jobu Tupaki is hunting down versions of Evelyn from every universe and killing them. Dark, right?
At this point in the movie, you’re either on the edge of your seat or confused as hell (or both). Long story short, Jobu Tupaki is actually Alpha Joy, Alpha Evelyn’s daughter, who had her mind fractured when her mother experimented with universe-jumping tech on her a bit too much. Now, Joy is occupying ALL of the Joys across the gargantuan multiverse, and, having gone nearly insane experiencing everything, everywhere, all at once, decides to kill every version of her mother. To fight her, our Evelyn uses the jumping technology to access the skills of each of her multiverse counterparts. What follows is nothing less than insane.
The second act of the movie is an absolute whirlwind, as Evelyn jumps from body to body (a martial arts-skilled version of her! A chef version of her!) to fight Alpha Joy and her minions. The visuals are powerful and nearly overwhelming, but directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert truly make the most of the multiverse concept, using crazy aesthetics and impressive cinematography.
Joy, as it turns out, is just lonely. She’s been hunting Evelyns just to find someone to understand her, and she soon gets her wish. Evelyn fractures her own mind, and when she too experiences everything everywhere all at once, the film turns full nihilist. Nothing matters, Joy believes. Not when you’re experiencing everything. And honestly? It’s hard not to believe it with her.
It’s at this point in the film, however, that the insanity lends itself to simply a mother-daughter relationship. In an unaccepting world, how do we accept unperfect circumstances? Evelyn is forced to ask herself how she can accept each of her crumbling relationships, in worlds where almost all of them are falling apart.
The loudness of the multiverse is quieted as she talks to Joy and Waymond, and the audience realizes alongside her that maybe, life has meaning because we give it meaning. Maybe, in a world where hope seems lost and everything feels too much, our relationships are what keep us anchored in reality, and something as big as a multiverse-jumping killer is really just a daughter seeking to be loved.
It’s hard not to get choked up as Evelyn refuses Joy’s nihilism, promising her that in a world where she could be everywhere, the only place she wants to be is with her daughter. At this point, I’m crying my eyes out at one of the most loving gestures I’ve ever seen put to film, but that’s beside the point. Evelyn, Joy, and their family are ok in the end.
Everything, Everywhere, All At Once is one of those films that flips you on your head and makes you think about your own place in the universe. A scene in which two stationary, lifeless rocks have a conversation in text bubbles made me reconsider all of my relationships and the impact I want to leave on the world, and to me, that’s powerful filmmaking. The movie, despite the insanity of infinite universes, is a family story put on by incredible actors at its core, and it’s one of the best of this decade so far. Go see it.
Hi! My name is Brendan Shore and I am a staff writer for The Mycenaean. I am an avid photographer and rock climber!