If you had the chance to peek into all your different lives in the multiverse, which one would you choose?
Everything Everywhere All At Once theorises that no matter which one you choose, in the end, it won’t make much of a difference. Though this is the message the directorial duo of Daniels ends the movie with, the journey towards reaching this conclusion is anything but ordinary.
The A24 production follows Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) a Chinese immigrant living in the United States of America with her husband Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan) and daughter Joy Wang (Stephanie Hsu). What seems like another tale of immigrants living in America owning a small business (in this case, a laundromat), doing their taxes, and grappling with the idea of their daughter’s sexuality, soon makes way to a consortium of realities from multiple universes interspersing with the one we’ve been exposed to since the beginning of the movie. From cult leaders and cinema actors to Kung Fu practitioners and chefs, the film gives us quite the range, making us question the concept of reality itself.
Separated into three parts, with the names of the parts taking after the title — Everything, Everywhere and All At Once — the film risks overwhelming the viewer by exposing them to a multitude of realities in over two hours. By exploring the multiple what-ifs that plague Evelyn’s brain, the film lays bare the fears that linger in the crevices of our own life decisions. This becomes more pronounced when one of the Waymonds explains to Evelyn that every choice we make creates a new universe.
While unravelling Eveyln’s fears and posing philosophical questions, the film masterfully deals with the universal experience of being human, and Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Wang becomes the poster child of this experience.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The pace of the film, complemented by the soundtrack, refuses to let the eyes of the viewer waver from the screen. The sheer absurdness of the concept definitely helps; there may be moments where we wish Evelyn goes back to her laundromat, but we soon realise that there is a method to this madness. The film with its sensory overload still gives space for you to probe, interpret and theorise, laying out the pieces of the puzzle to fix at one’s own will and time.
Symbols like the blackhole-like ‘Everything Bagel’ and Mr. Wang’s googly eyes (with the latter coming across as trivial at first) make a stellar commentary on the yin and yang energies in the universes. Deconstructing the messages relayed through symbols like these are many and will have the audience smiling to themselves well after the movie is over.
Though the idea of a multiverse and science fiction narrative reels the viewer in, it is the heart of the story, which is positioned around love, hope, and acceptance, that keeps us hooked to the screen. Case in point; when Evelyn is fighting the minions of an important person in the multiverse, her husband’s pleas to always choose love and hope is what saves her from the jaws of near-certain death.
While it is tricky to talk about the heart of the film without giving away any more spoilers, the biggest takeaway is that this genre and the mind-bending film are full of soul. Could this message have been relayed with fewer universes? Probably, but that would mean you missing out on Jobu Tupaki’s vibrant costumes, watching people with hotdogs for fingers, and even a raccoon training a chef... do you smell a Racocoonie spin-off too?
One can only dream of tasting the everything bagel, but you can come closest to it if you let go and bite into watching Everything Everywhere All At Once, at once .