Generational Trauma Through the Multiverse

Image Source: EcranLarge

Everything Everywhere All at Once is the record-breaking film of 2022! This movie won so many awards that it broke the record for most awards given to a movie. It was the first film where an Asian actress won the Oscar for Best Actress, the first time Chinese-speaking actors were given Best Actor awards, as well as the first time multiple Asian actors won in a single ceremony. But of course, awards aren’t everything (everywhere all at once), so let’s take a look at what made this film so special in its own wacky, fantastical way!

The film’s drab, mundane introduction sets the tone for a slow build-up to the core plot. We’re introduced to a day in the very stressful life of Evelyn Quan Wang, a Chinese immigrant who moved to the US with her husband and daughter. They have a family-run laundromat, and their lives are dictated by the next round of taxes needing to be filed, which they’re struggling to pay. The early scenes show how small Evelyn’s life has become and–as we go deeper into the multiverse–we see how differently her life could’ve ended up had she made other choices. Her early conclusion to these changes is that it all comes back to her leaving her family and home country with her husband, Waymond. After she’s been shown a bit of the multiverse and where else she could’ve ended up, Evelyn thinks her big mistake was Waymond. As the film goes on, she learns that’s not true. 

At its heart, this film is about family and the relationship between mothers and daughters. The existential threat that Evelyn faces–the threat causing the destruction of the multiverse–turns out to be another version of Evelyn’s daughter Joy, who (in the multiverse) goes by Jobu Tupaki. Through Jobu we see her strained relationship with Evelyn and how much resentment was actually beneath the surface. Jobu goes through multiverse after multiverse searching for a version of her mother that would understand her, that would love her in the way she truly needed, and the more she couldn’t find the further she fell into a nihilistic worldview. Jobu eventually created The Bagel, a black hole that could destroy the multiverse. The Bagel initially looked like it was created to destroy the world, but Jobu reveals that she built it to destroy herself. Her belief that nothing matters so why bother living opposes Evelyn’s learned dogma by the end of the movie: it is because nothing matters in the vast multiverse that you should live fully and with empathy. She learns this from Waymond. Everything Everywhere All at Once is a movie about everything and nothing. It takes the concepts of nothing matters and everything matters and expands them to create a film that is truly breathtaking in its visuals and fantastical plot with a simple message of love at the center of it.