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Juliana Colleen Consorio


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Yzzabel Paola Gache

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Everything, Everywhere, All at Once: The Defining Flick of Our Generation


When limited to an average of two hours of film to be shown on the big screen, just how achievable is it to encompass a worthwhile narrative within a cinematic production that will live on as a classic film, especially in this day and age where movies aplenty provide a spectrum of palettes that have already been repeatedly released and subsequently forgotten?

Well, leave it to the genius of directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively known as Daniels) to have made this possible with the hit indie motion picture of 2022—Everything, Everywhere, All at Once (EEAAO). Combining the popular themes and concepts of the multiverse found in hit film franchises like Marvel’s Multiverse Saga, as well as themes of generational trauma in families of color found in recent distinct animation films such as Disney’s Encanto and Pixar’s Turning Red, we are met with the genre potpourri of absurdist sci-fi action dark comedy-drama that surprisingly complimented each other well and became an instant hit amongst the youth. 

Divided into three main parts, the first part of the film is entitled “Part 1: Everything,” where main character, Evelyn Wang is a Chinese immigrant mother who co-owns a laundromat with her husband. She’s under a lot of stress caused by every single member of her family, tax audits, and the New Year Party she’s supposed to hold later during the day. Not until her stress intensified by sudden divorce papers and the equally sudden task of saving the lives in her universe, as well as the lives of everyone in the multiverse, she discovers all the alternate realities of their lives, and discovers the true menace of those realities: her queer and nihilistic daughter Joy Wang dubbed as Jobu Topaki in the Alphaverse. The start of “Part 2: Everywhere” is the aftermath of Evelyn discovering everything, and consequently appearing everywhere; being on par with Jobu due to the verse-hopping help by the Alphaverse counterpart of the flick’s warmhearted husband and father, Waymond Wang. Despite Jobu’s killing spree, she reveals that she doesn’t want to kill Evelyn and leads her to the “Everything Bagel” in order to have her nihilism be understood and accepted by her mother, causing the main protagonist to also lead a life of discord, doing anything without consequence since “life is meaningless.” This is immediately halted by Waymond’s never-ending patience with Evelyn and the significant realization that being kind is a necessary trait in survival and not just mere naivete. “Part 3: All at Once” is where everything is resolved: everything and everywhere still doesn’t matter, but that only means that they can do whatever they want and simply cherish what they have at the moment, leading Evelyn to finally have joy back in her life. What better way to end a film that can really speak for queer immigrant Asians than with a song sung by the staple artist for angst lovers, Japanese-born American singer-songwriter Mitski. “This Is A Life” is a simple and emotionally evoking piece that has the ability to make any Evelyn, Joy, or Waymond Wang seated at the theater cry due to the ending’s catharsis; that is, if they haven’t already done so in the emotional scenes leading up to the film’s conclusion.

The film quickly became critically acclaimed, garnering multiple statuettes, trophies and nominations from award shows such as Screen Actors Guild Awards, Critics Choice, British Academy Film Awards, and of course, the prestigious and recently concluded Oscars in which the film recently sweeped multiple awards such as the Best Picture award. Boasting a predominantly Asian cast, it also allowed its people and their stories to stand at the forefront of award shows. The star actress, Michelle Yeoh, has various well-known roles under her belt, such as Bond girl Wai-Lin in one of the James Bond installments, Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), and Eleanor Sung-Young in box-office hit Crazy Rich Asians (2018). It came as a surprise to most that it was only until her seemingly-mundane indie role that she even got nominated for awards deserved several films back. Her co-star, Stephanie Hsu, has captivating acting skills honed from her appearances on Broadway runs of musicals Be More Chill and The Spongebob Musical that undoubtedly shined in her breakthrough role on the big screen. Lastly, supporting actor Ke Huy Quan had an emotional revelation that his last big role was several decades ago in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) due to the lack of offers for Asian American roles in America. He instead went to work behind the scenes as a stunt choreographer throughout the years, yet lost his health insurance due to the lack of work while anticipating EEAAO’s release. The triumvirate of actors embodying integral personalities in current Asian culture all made groundbreaking history with the flick: peaking in an ongoing and flourishing career, in starting a new and bright route, and in regaining a longed-for spark—nothing short of emotionally inspiring every future Asian actor to thrive and be formally acknowledged in the international entertainment industry after having been kept in the dark within the film history that we have now slowly left behind us since the movie’s release.

Being an independent sleeper hit film from the company A24, it comes to no surprise that the film’s budget is on the lower end when compared to other popular films it shared the big screen with. Regardless of the small amount of money spent on production, it was definitely not made obvious with the visual treat of a film’s impressive use of special and visual effects that merely had a five man team working behind it. The team dropped a piece of cinema with strong direction that has truly made a mark by making anyone emotionally engaged with just a still shot of rocks and their dialogue as font flashing on the screen. It applied various strong philosophies, using the fictional aspect of the film as a vehicle to creatively exacerbate difficult nonfictional issues that we encounter, resulting in a uniquely comedic and endearing system of engaging fight scenes using belt bags and googly eyes in an IRS office that never fails to keep you coming back to witness it all over again. Interesting pop culture references such as the ever-famous Wong Kar-wai direction and Ratatouille narrative were also seen in the film. The amount of effort and passion poured by the entire cast into acting, directing, editing, sound production, costume design and styling, and even coloring and branding the narrative was done in a way wherein its simplicity and authenticity reached itself out to you directly with ease.

There is truly a lot to take in with the movie; however, its simultaneous stories are treated with care and attention, and its central themes are never lost and are instead easily captured by viewers who are not willfully ignorant to said themes—queer and mental health acceptance, especially in growing up with Asian immigrant culture. It tells the pressing stories of today: wherein to be “loved” by your family doesn’t always mean to be accepted, the constant dread in thinking about how our mundane lives and selves could’ve been something else, the insatiable human desire to always be more than what we are which in turn wreak havoc within ourselves, coming to terms with the insignificance of one’s life, and the topic of generational trauma wherein children’s tendency to please their elders traps them in an approval-seeking cycle which is consequently projected on their own children due to the fear of seeing their “failures” in their little ones. Hung up on blaming anything superficial before they are held accountable for the acceptance of LGBTQ+ identities and mental health talk with each younger generation, immigrant parents typically tunnel vision into cultural traditions and financial stability, overlooking these new arising holistic needs of the youth today. This allows for familial estrangement over expectations and the alarming ease in detaching from your own blood. Regardless, one of the unique and concluding things about the film is its focus on central philosophies of nihilism, existentialism, absurdism, and humanism and the importance of extracting its positive outlooks on human life. Ultimately, EEAAO is a contemporary classic that shows the glory in the mundanity of life, in all of its laundry and taxes since there is always something to love in everything and everywhere.

Even without the accolades, EEAAO has deeply touched the hearts and minds of plenty of people even after several watches, and I’d have to say that I’m happily guilty of this. The term cinematic masterpiece may be overused, cliche, or reduced to a joke nowadays, but it truly is nothing short of one. There’s simply no other way to describe the bizarre yet ever-heartwarming film; however, despite the movie’s grasp on both its audience and the film industry, its only waterloo is the fact that it’s not the must-watch for every household. The absurdist nature of the film is still not easily consumed by the generation of Evelyns out there. Rather, the film’s nature mostly stands as the biggest blanket of comfort and peace by making all the Joys feel seen since holding onto someone that doesn’t wanna be held onto is difficult to change, yet through all the noise, they will still yearn to be be wholly embraced—a basic need possessed by any human—even if it meant crossing the multiverse to find a version of someone who will do so. It will take time, and imposing your own reasons will not do much; yet, all it takes is to simply be there and to let them know that you accept and want them in your space. This leaves the universal desire to be accepted left in the air without the actual ability to put parental figures on a sci-fi verse-hopping journey on discovering empathy or to simply have the off chance of having the movie serve as the catalyst to coming across Evelyn’s same epiphany of acceptance as a Chinese immigrant mom which is longed for by any queer and mentally troubled daughter. Perhaps deep-seated issues of generational trauma cannot be solved by simply sitting down and watching the trending flicks today, but authentic stories, such as this one, surely continue to creatively replicate the realities of life as we know it by shining a much needed light on the topic that has been troubling families since the conception of its very first member and its very own cycle.


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Hellerman, J. (2022, June 2). How “Everything Everywhere All at Once” Went from 10 Screens to $50+ Million at the Box Office. No Film School. https://nofilmschool.com/everything-everywhere-all-at-once-box-office

Ke Huy Quan Actually Lost His Health Insurance After ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once.’ (2023, March 3). Just Jared. https://www.justjared.com/2023/03/03/ke-huy-quan-actually-lost-his-health-insurance-after-everything-everywhere-all-at-once

Lee, C. (2022, April 13). Daniels Unpack the Everything Bagel of Influences Behind Everything Everywhere All at Once. Vulture. https://www.vulture.com/2022/04/everything-everywhere-all-at-onces-influences-explained

Pop Culture Detective. (2022, July 20). Everyone Everywhere Needs Waymond Wang (and Ke Huy Quan) [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7YnbGszcb8

Tamagawa, E. (2023, March 1). Ke Huy Quan’s shapeshifting earns an Oscar nomination for “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once.” WBUR. https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2022/04/08/ke-huy-quan-acting