I gravitate towards art that shows connections between humans, universes, and different versions of ourselves. It’s really hard to explain what Everything Everywhere All At Once is about because it truly encompasses everything all at once. From the reality of the American dream to mother-daughter relationships and generational trauma, tapping into different versions of yourself to examining the people we love and what they teach us— Everything Everywhere All At Once will break you open and show you how beautiful chaos can be.
Tapping into Different Versions of Yourself
Evelyn (played by the future Oscar-winning Michelle Yeoh) is a woman drowning in her familial responsibilities. As she gets ready for an IRS audit, both her husband and daughter try to connect with her about something important. But Evelyn has been so caught up in the day-to-day she’s forgotten about what makes life worth living. When another universe needs a superior version of Evelyn to help save the multiverse, she slowly awakens to the idea of living a different life. She sees different versions of herself and performs weird tasks (like declaring her love to her auditor) to activate each skill they carry in order to become the Evelyn she was always meant to be.
I’ve been working on healing different versions of myself and Everything Everywhere All At Once reminded me I have access to these other me’s whenever I need them. And I don’t have to do weird things (like turning a trophy into a buttplug) to access them, just do some emotional work. Driving this point home, the film opens with a shot of a mirror, echoing the idea of reflecting our own image back to ourselves. There are higher conscious details throughout the film, the most blatant being to the third eye with Evelyn placing a googly eye sticker in the center of her forehead before an epic action sequence.
Another Exploration of a Mother-Daughter Relationship
After experiencing the power of The Universe, Eveyln still comments on her daughter’s sexuality. Taking the moment when she meets an alternate version of Joy (epically played by Stephanie Hsu) to reinforce her true immigrant mom credentials. The push and pull of the mother-daughter relationship grounds the entire film as we jump from hot-dog-finger Evelyn to opera-singer Evelyn and my personal favorite—Kung-Fu Master Evelyn.
After exploring every version of herself, Evelyn’s daughter Joy becomes so powerful from her collective trauma, she can destroy the multiverse. She channels pain from every single version of herself all at once into one swirling symbol (I won’t ruin its wackiness). Instead of healing, Joy goes on a mission to destroy the person who caused it all—her mother. This is a film that villainizes generational trauma in a way that is so dark it’s mesmerizing. And the only way out of Joy’s misery is to reach out to that mother, across the dimensions, and heal.
There’s a profound scene in this film where both Joy and Evelyn enter a dimension in the multiverse where they’re both rocks (yes, literally). There was something oddly relatable to this scene—sitting next to your mother in silence. Each line would appear on the screen as text, as Evelyn tries to relate to her daughter and repair the damage. Cut to the heartfelt moment where words are finally melted between the two and healing actually begins.
Relationships Teach Us How to Fight for What We Love
The other plot point that is so gut-wrenchingly beautiful is Evelyn’s relationship with her husband. Waymond Wang (played none other than my favorite Goonie, Ke Huy Quan) has the kindest soul. We get to see multiple paths where Evelyn doesn’t choose to go to America with Waymond. Their relationship is woven throughout the movie in the most endearing and heartbreaking way. It isn’t until one of the final scenes that Evelyn starts to see her husband for who he truly is. Then, she learns to fight like him, with love. It’s such a growth moment, and it shows the lengths a mother is willing to go to save her family.
There Are No Rules
If you would take the red pill in The Matrix, loved the brilliant multiverse treat we got in Spider-Man: No Way Home, or are intrigued by the concept of variants from Loki, I think you’ll love this film. If you’ve never seen an A24 film get ready for weird. A24 lets creators take artistic risks in their films, which is one of the reasons I love them. Accept the weirdness and really just look at what the story is trying to tell you. I want to see more films that celebrate the beauty of chaos. Films that remind us it’s okay to feel everything, everywhere all at once. There’s power in the trauma you’ve lived with and your past versions of yourself are ready to help you whenever you need them.