Friday, June 3, 2022

Everything Everywhere All at Once

♣♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Evelyn Quan Wang (Michelle Yeoh) immigrates to America with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) and struggles with their laundromat business, especially during that time of the year when they have to file taxes. IRS inspector Deirdre Beaubeirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis) makes life difficult for them, even more so because of all the bureaucratic mumbo jumbo that gets lost in translation. Daughter Joy Wang (Stephanie Hsu) usually takes care of mediating between her parents and the tax authorities, but the souring of relationship between mother and child is now getting in the way. As Evelyn tries to fathom how her taxes should be properly computed, Waymond starts acting strangely and claims that he is visiting from the Alpha universe, one of the many where several variants of them exist with every little change in their decision-making. He warns her of the arrival of a certain Jobu Tupaki, an all-powerful threat to the multiverse that only Evelyn herself is prophesized to be able to defeat.

The film is divided into three parts and is almost two hours and a half long. Part 1 (Everything) establishes the premise as well as the mechanics of multiversal-hopping. In this regard, the film succeeds because they really go out of their way to make the mechanisms clear. This means plot holes are few and you get a better comprehension of how everything works. It’s not spoon-feeding per se, but it definitely helps in understanding what the heck is going on because the concept can be a bit complicated.

Part 2 (Everywhere) concentrates on the fight scenes, most of the time instigated by Jobu Tupaki. This is where the film starts to embrace its playful take on Absurdism. This is also where you go back to the door to leave your brain so you can just fully enjoy the audio-visual experience and the weirdness of it all. This part is one heck of a mindfuck so trippy that it gives you a worthwhile existentialist orgasm, to put it bluntly. Don’t try to interpret what you are currently seeing at this point. There’s a lot of time for philosophical introspection after you’re done watching.

Part 3 (All at Once) is more of an epilogue barely 10 minutes long and is there to wrap everything up. If this were a rollercoaster ride, this is the part where the car approaches the gate. Everything Everywhere All at Once is simply absurdist and insane but hits you right in the feels. The weird thing is how its otherworldly presentation makes it seem like it doesn't make any sense yet after watching it you walk away with an inexplicable feeling of understanding whatever message the film is trying to convey. It is pleasantly strange that way.

Without a doubt, this is the highlight of Yeoh’s mainstream English-speaking filmography. With a plethora of variants of one character at her disposal, she is able to flesh out every aspect of Evelyn, or at least those that most of her variants scattered across the universe all share. Not to be outdone, Ke and Hsu also offer solid support, especially the latter who benefits from Jobu Tupaki’s outlandish reiterations. You need versatile actors to pull off this kind of roles, and both ladies give it their 100%.

As for post-viewing research, prepare to read up on Existentialism, Absurdism, and Nihilism to better understand what message the narrative is trying to impart. A quick glimpse at the trailer makes it feel as though the film is existentialist to the core, but after analyzing it, it really identifies more with Absurdism. We can also argue that Evelyn is a personification of Existentialism; Joy/Jobu Tupaki, Nihilism. As for the bagel, I find it a bit confusing, but my takeaway is that it is a metaphor for suicide. In any case, I’ll leave that to you. This movie has so many layers that can fuel discussions for weeks without end.

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