So where do I start?
I guess I’ll start someplace in the beginning of the middle of the end or thereabouts. Since in Everything Everywhere All at Once it’s all is interconnected. Essentially the main character Evelyn is tasked with saving the multiverse from certain doom. Evelyn is an aging Chinese immigrant laundry coin-op owner struggling with taxes while redefining her relationships with her husband, father, daughter and self. Everything about her seems spiteful, as if she is trying too hard to make things right despite the universe having other plans. She wants to please everyone else, especially her disapproving father whom she had been alienated from, while simultaneously being disgusted by all around her and wholly dissatisfied with her circumstances whether or not she will admit it to herself. She becomes the embodiment of perfectionism, both assumed and projected.
She learns from a different iteration of her then-husband that she is the only one who can save the multiverse from certain doom, by reconnecting with other versions of herself in order to appropriate their skills. But she is warned not to get too close to her other selves or she could wind up becoming fractured. It’s way more complicated and intertwined than that, and I won’t give away any more. Partly because the glitter dust is still settling in my own mind. And partly because I don’t want to spoil the movie, which must be experienced for yourself to truly understand how multifaceted it is.
At any rate, the result is a heartfelt dark comedy about a mid-life crisis coming of age and journey into acceptance. So needless to say this resonated with me on a profound level, having played some of those cards from my own hand a few years back to now still be sorting out the good and bad consequences of those actions.
So what’s the multiverse like?
Honestly, I have no basis for comparison. I never saw Swiss Army Man by the same directors, though many have said that it also defies explanation and now I kind of want to. The closest I can say I’ve come is that this kind of like an amplified, more adult version of Scott Pilgrim Versus the World. Except that it’s so much more. Everything Everywhere All at Once has some similar reality checks, high action scenes, and transitions, but it takes them even further and alters its own reality, considering the deeper more profound implications that result from an older perspective, different relationships, and earning an R rating. It’s a much different story, not of love lost or gained or of teenage angst in existential crisis, but ultimately exploring the deeper meaning of family and truly connecting with others and oneself. It is about finding grace in unexpected situations.
So what does all this have to do with horror?
Well, considering the idea that every iteration of oneself could be interrelated beyond the decisions that lead them to become who they are at any given point is simply… terrifying. This movie represents a deep existential crisis beyond the psychological level, stripping bare the very fabric that makes us ourselves. What if…? Should I have…? What might have been…? Who could I have become…? There are reasons the answers to those questions typically lie beyond our comprehension, and the open exploration of these themes is a bit unsettling to say the least.
If you have never had a profound existential crisis, be glad that the multiverse isn’t depending on you to put yourself back together in its wake. It’s a horrific proposition. We should all be grateful not to be that important and not to be that needed. Not to belittle how special and unique each and every one of us are, but there is a point at which you’re way better off on the bench sitting that crisis out and hoping the coach doesn’t call you in to the middle of the crazy.
So, I thought this was a comedy – what gives?
When all is said and done, this movie is funny as Hell, and I mean that in the most desecrated smitten way. (And yes, I did choose those words intentionally, thank you very much.) Everything Everywhere All at Once is deep and thought-provoking but it also crosses over so many lines into absurdity and taboo without apology (or any sense that there is even a need to do so) that you can’t help but let yourself be led along laughing all the way at the irreverence.
Because, let’s face it, there is a dark humor to be found in those deep recesses of the psyche and in the release of that pent-up energy. You feel shamelessly tainted and dirty and free all at once. It opens the door to conversations hitherto unspoken, desires not yet acted upon, and selves never explored. And honestly there is a lot of humor in the release that comes from opening that door, like finally owning up to a totally inappropriate fart with pride. Like Shrek says, “Better out than in.”
I give Everything Everywhere All at Once 4.5 Cthulus.(4.5 / 5)
Everything Everywhere All at Once opened up some intriguing conversations and thoughts about the reality we live in, and I very much enjoyed the action, humor, and consideration of the need for human connection. It all truly comes down to relationships: with others, ourselves, our reality, and our acceptance of that reality. That is Everything Everywhere All at Once, all neatly wrapped up in an existential bagel with everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) on it. Though in the past here on Haunted MTL, I admit to having preferred donuts to bagels…