Review: Everything Everywhere All at Once
How many versions of yourself could you handle?
Everything Everywhere All at Once (EEAAO) is a film directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. The film had a budget of $14.3 million USD and broke into the box office at $103.7 million. The film is in English and Cantonese, and was released on April 1, 2022 in Canada. It stars Ke Huy Quan as Waymond Wang, Michelle Yeon as Evelyn Quan Wang, and Stephanie Hsu as Joy Wang and Jobu Tupaki. The film is an American film with hints of melancholy, comedy, romance, and action. It has everything for every audience. No matter what you are interested in, there is something for you. The Daniels produced the film with Anthony and Joe Russo.
The story focuses on a Chinese-American immigrant couple who are being audited by the IRS. Evelyn discovers that she has some sort of power that allows her to exist in a parallel universe and talk to an alternate version of her husband, Waymond. She is given the mission of connecting with all forms of her alternate universe self in order to save every universe from a powerful being on a mission to destroy everything.
The film has hints of different sub-cultures and concepts within philosophy. It focuses on nihilism, existentialism, and realism, among others. In the film, Waymond is shown as a vibrant person, a doting husband who loves his wife and his daughter. Waymond is a sweetheart. He’s incredibly nice, and he sees the good in the world. He sees the good in his daughter, the good in his wife, and the good in everyone surrounding him. Evelyn does not understand why her husband seems to be like this. In some ways, the audience gets the feeling that she views him as weaker than her. She sees herself as someone who always has to step in and save everyone. She sees herself as the only person who is cleaning up every person’s mess.
What I find interesting is that the film also portrays the plight that many immigrant families go through in order to adjust to the western culture. Although the immigrants in this film are Chinese, their story is something many people from different paths and different walks of life can relate to. It is a film that centers around Asian-American culture and identity. It is an important story that everyone must watch.
To me, it greatly symbolized the concept of the butterfly effect. Every action has a reaction. Every action is categorized into hundreds of thousands of possibilities when it comes to the end result. Nobody knows how their life will go or how it will turn out in the end. One decision might put you in a different room, in a different sector, and in a different place in life. In the end, you might be filled with regrets of wasted potential, or the many ways that your life might have gone had you not focused on a specific goal.
Many of us wish we could talk to an alternate version of ourselves. I would argue that the person we will be in the future is an alternate version of us because they know better, they have acquired more knowledge, more life experiences, and more wisdom. The version of us that is growing every single day to the person we were meant to become is an alternate version of ourselves.
The New York Times called EEAAO a film that is a “swirl of genre anarchy” as it has hints of comedy, science fiction, fantasy, martial arts, romance, and more.
A key aspect that made the film so visionary in my eyes is the editing. The film is incredibly trippy. It makes you feel as though you are in a daze that you are unable to get out of. It is extremely colourful, loud, and unapologetically in your face. The visuals are absolutely stunning. The film would be nowhere without its cinematography.
The film has been marked in the top-10 films of 2022 by the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute. It has garnered six nominations at the 80th Golden Globe Awards, as well as 14 nominations at the 28th Critics’ Choice Awards. In my eyes, this is a film that is absolutely worthy of an Academy Award as it is completely flawless. It’s a raw film that will invoke many emotions in you.
What I find fascinating is the focus on mother-daughter relationships and how complex they are to navigate. We think our mothers don’t really understand us, or perhaps they just don’t want to understand us. It’s difficult to find a way for a mother to relate to her daughter just as it is difficult for daughters to be able to relate to mothers. Underneath that layer of stoicism, what is left are two people who desperately want the other person to reach out but are afraid of confronting the other party about their feelings. The relationship between Joy and Evelyn is interesting and relatable. Joy feels that her mother does not really accept her. Evelyn feels as though her daughter is slipping away from her every single day. In the end, it is a film about a mother saving her daughter, and a daughter saving her mother.
The best way I can describe EEAAO is that it is a film that will hug you. It feels like a warm, strong, vulnerable embrace that you don’t ever want to let go of. To many people, the world of entertainment is just about that: entertaining. However, to people like me, art is very healing. Amidst a sea of mediocrity, nothing will ever beat finding a breathtaking film that will leave a mark on you. Nothing beats the mark that EEAAO leaves on your soul.