Everything Everywhere All At Once centres around a woman who stumbles upon the ability to tap into the multiverse amidst the chaos of tax season. She leverages this newfound ability to reconnect with her daughter. The film brilliantly juxtaposes the grand notion of the multiverse with the personal tale of an immigrant family teetering on the brink.
There are few films that delve as thoughtfully into the human psyche as Everything Everywhere All at Once. The seamless blend of science fiction and drama presents an exploration of the concept of multiple alternate realities. And, while this concept is not new to cinema, the way that it is approached certainly is and this allows us to use it as a tool to better understand ourselves and how our decisions shape us.
The film is a beautiful journey into the many possibilities of life. All the different versions of the main character’s life make us think about our choices and who we’ve become. Most importantly, though, the movie is about the meaninglessness of life and how this can either make us hopeless, or it can allow us to fill each moment we experience with equal meaning—no matter how seemingly small.
The beauty of the film are the different themes that it contains and how it is able to address each one without losing its entertainment value. Here are some of the themes from the film and what we can learn from them.
The absurdity of life
With so many alternate realities and different choices that can be made, it can be a struggle to find meaning. This particular theme is presented to us through Joy, the daughter in the film. Joy has a deep desire to connect with her mother but she battles with depression and a consuming feeling of there being no meaning to life.
To counteract this the film presents us with Joy’s father, Waymund, who sees the infinite nature of the world as an opportunity to fill the world with kindness. The film demonstrates that, even if life is meaningless, we can see this as an opportunity to fill each moment with its own sense of meaning.
The film addresses nihilism and depression. Ultimately, the film demonstrates that in an absurd world, the only thing to do is recognise the absurdity and find meaning anyway. This meaning, according to the film can be found through the people that you have in your life.
The movie suggests that, instead of shying away from the neuroses and fears that we have about the infinite universe and our place in it, we should embrace it.
The mother-daughter relationship
Another theme in the film is the relationship between Joy and her mother, Evelyn. The two of them have a strained relationship and throughout the film they struggle to connect. There is a lot of conflict between mother and daughter as Evelyn comes to terms with the fact that she has not lived her potential and is feeling frustrated with where she finds herself at her age. At the same time, Joy feels unseen by her mother who is accepting of her sexuality as long as she doesn’t ‘flaunt’ it.
The conflict between them stems from them actually being very similar and they find resolution and connect by showing each other kindness. The two women are experiencing their own woes in life but it is when they share in their woes that they really see each other.
Relationships can be complicated and none more so than the mother-daughter relationship. Having empathy and understanding is the way that we can connect.
Infinite choices that have led us here
In therapy, we often grapple with the question of who we are versus who we want to be. We all have an image of our ideal self—the person we aspire to become. However, the journey towards this ideal self is full of challenges, obstacles, and self-doubt. The film “Everything Everywhere All at Once” beautifully illustrates this struggle through its depiction of alternate realities and the representation that this has of the internal conflicts we face as we strive for self-actualization.
Each alternate reality in the film represents a different facet of the main character’s identity. Some realities are filled with joy and success, while others with pain, regret, and failure. This mirrors our own lives, where we experience a range of emotions and circumstances that shape our identity. It also reflects the therapeutic process, where we work to navigate our emotions and experiences to understand and accept our multifaceted identities.
It’s a powerful message about taking responsibility for our decisions and understanding their impact.
The journey to self-discovery
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” can serve as a valuable therapeutic tool, that can help to stimulate discussions about identity, choice, and aspiration. Importantly, it can facilitate deeper self-reflection and self-understanding.
There are valuable insights into our own journey of self-discovery that can be learned from the film. We are not confined to a single reality. We are complex beings with the capacity for change and growth. No matter where you are in your life, your relationships and the decisions that have got you to that point, you have the power to make choices that move you to the reality that you want.