The multiverse-bending drama that is Everything, Everywhere All at Once

Jul 16, 2022 0 comments



In recent years, we’ve been studded with movies exploring the concept of a multiverse. You would think that this concept and its grandiose scale would have burnt us out by now and its entertainment value has unfortunately staled into a short-lived life. But then, directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert prove us otherwise.


Everything, Everywhere All at Once is A24 Studios’ latest film installment and stars Michelle Yeoh as lead protagonist Evelyn, Stephanie Hsu as Joy, and Ke Huy Quan as Waymond. Within this crazed sci-fi adventure lies a heartful family drama as well as a fun and emotional deep dive into the human condition. 


Everything

The film introduces us to Evelyn Wang—the breadwinner of the family who is primarily carrying the unbearable weight of managing everything: expense receipts piling high at her large desk, keeping their laundromat business afloat, and pleasing her overbearing, old-fashioned father. With a divorce imminent from his happy-go-lucky husband, Waymond, and her daughter Joy distraught at her, Evelyn feels backed into an inescapable corner and is regretful towards the choices that lead her to the life she’s in now.


Then suddenly, she meets her husband’s multiversal counterpart, Alpha-Waymond, after temporarily possessing main-Waymond’s body by means of “verse-jumping.” He recruits Evelyn in their plans to defeat Jobu Tupaki, who is soon revealed to be Joy’s nihilistic alpha-verse counterpart with the ability to freely embody all of her multiversal counterparts as well as their powers and abilities.


With little time for the audience to catch its breath, we are thrown into a series of creative action sequences and glimpses of the other universes, defying every realm of possibility from its infinitude, and rolling with it. We see universes where Evelyn is a well-renowned martial artist movie star, to a world where everyone has hotdogs for fingers (and that is probably not the universe that will stick with you the most after watching this, either). It is absurd and downright ridiculous, but despite it, the film manages to convince us of its premise, and reels us in with its marvelous, hilarious, and even artistic sequences (drawing-verse, rock-verse, and all that).



Everywhere


In Evelyn’s encounters/clashes against Jobu Tupaki, we get to learn more about Jobu’s backstory as well as her motivations. After being forced to verse-jump several times in the alphaverse, her mind has splintered and caused her to experience all the lives of her different versions across the expanding universes. Her resentment to both her mother, Alpha-Evelyn, as well as the torment of experiencing every life, has led her into creating the “Everything Bagel”: a black hole that can potentially destroy multiverses. Jobu’s jaded worldview becomes the movie’s main impetus. As Evelyn grapples with the realities of her universe, she slowly falls into Jobu’s worldview that ultimately, nothing matters. We see this in Evelyn’s failed (or failing) relationships, to the gradual failures amassed throughout her different lives. It’s in those series of chaos where Evelyn, too, begins to wonder what is the point


Simply put, the film rightfully boasts its creativity in storytelling by melding a poignant family drama alongside a wacky blockbuster. But it feels unique in its own right, too. It doesn’t feel as much a blockbuster as compared to the other movies (and I definitely don’t mean that as a bad thing). Despite the abundance of its creative action set-pieces, taking place in a blase IRS office, they feel almost secondary from the actual core of the story, but never out of place, or absurd for the sake of absurdity.


The movie journeys us into the ages-old question of is anything ever worth it? Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu’s dynamic bounce off each other so well as this disconnected family held only by sinews of purpose and of pleasing each other for its sake. Each of them masterfully portray their expressions of hidden defeat—laden with so much unspoken and pocketed regret and kept together with Waymond's seemingly unfaltering optimism. As the movie goes deeper, it prods them that very same question more persistently.


We see this in Stephanie Hsu's Joy and Jobu, with her look of disappointment and eventual nihilism; projecting sarcasm and wit to hide her multiverse-spanning disdain. Stephanie Hsu heartachingly portrays the feeling of neglect and numbness in her character and acts as the perfect foil to Evelyn and Alpha-Waymond's mission.


Whenever we see Evelyn contemplate, her tired eyes and tensed posture tell almost everything: she feels regret over her choices. When she sees the lives she could have lived instead, she revels a little too much in those vivid daydreams, and makes Jobu’s worldview even more palatable.


All at once



The movie really gets you not from its massive scales of creative grandeur. It isn’t the hotdog fingers, or the well-choreographed fight scenes. It’s not the multiversal hopping and exploration, but rather, its emotional gut punch.


The Daniels convey their movie’s message in a way that neither feels ham-fisted nor cheesy, but endearing and sincere instead. It triumphantly shows us that our existence, regardless of where, what time, or even what version of ourselves we are, even if it’s filled with many mistakes, is never futile. In worlds spiraling with different kinds of despair, we choose to be kind. Even if nothing ultimately matters, we choose to cherish the rare, imperfect beautiful moments we have.


A friend told me this was a definite-recommended watch, and he was not wrong in the slightest. Everything, Everywhere All at once crosses through the multiversal borders to echo the universal constant of love and beauty, and touches the heart of its audience without taking itself way too seriously. 


━━ Written By  Juan Carlos Montenegro



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