Pride Month Review: Everything Everywhere All At Once


Sometimes I worry about dying. Being raised by a catholic, brown, Latino mom and a fundamentalist Christian white dad, talk of heaven and hell was common in our household. My mother and father had a distinctly different view of the Christian faith, but regardless of their differences, they both understood certain rules that, if broken, would get you scratched off of magic sky daddy’s guest list for the good place. Religious guilt and fear is a real trauma that endures throughout adulthood, especially for the former “Jesus freak” OCD gay kid, and this past year I finally broke. My mental health crashed. I was having panic attacks about dying and what that would mean. 

Memories of my parents came back to me, and although I had long since moved away from their beliefs, I couldn’t bear the thought of my time on this miserable rock expiring. I had this swirling panic as to whether or not I would go anywhere or just be gone forever after expiring. I was panicking as to whether or not anything had any meaning, or importance, or what even was the point of going after everything that I had been. Thankfully, through a cathartic piece of cinema, I began my process to reduce the panic and fear that was changing the way I looked at everything. Nothing Matters.

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” (2022), directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, is the next stop on our PRIDE film tour. It will certainly go down as not only one of the best films of this decade but of all time. The film stars legends Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis, James Hong, and Stephanie Hsu and is a special journey that I suggest anyone with an interest in film take. 

What other project can you name that has a Wong Kar Wai homage, Ratatouille references, and Michelle Yeoh action scenes all wrapped up into a narrative about finding peace in the greater meaninglessness of everything? 

The film centers around the Wang family as they are flung into an all-out multiversal crisis. Yeoh plays the film’s main protagonist Evelyn Wang, a disgruntled mother and laundromat owner who quickly begins to encounter versions of her family members from different universes. This leads her to encounter Jobu Tupaki, a being capable of destroying the multiverse and everyone in it. Throughout the film, we meet different versions of the cast from different lifetimes, with different skills and outcomes. Through our main cast of characters, we understand the components that make up the recipe for inner peace.

Part One: Nothing Matters, I am your Mother

Through her journey, Jobu, and a bagel, Evelyn is taught the idea that nothing matters. As in, there is no inherent meaning or value to anything. Ever. At the beginning of the film, we see our protagonist getting caught up in the social constraints of her own youth and in the stressful requirements of her daily life as a laundromat owner. An example of these social constraints is Evelyn being homophobic towards her daughter, Joy, who is in a relationship with another girl. The film forces the audience, along with Evelyn, to not only confront their own personal prejudices – whatever they may be – but recognize that they have them in the first place. Forcing them to reconcile with the idea that since everything has no inherent meaning, their moral scrutiny and prejudice are harmful as they serve no purpose and are, therefore, meaningless. Many ideological sects impose a set of meaning onto various things in life, often to their detriment. 

For example, the idea that LGBT identity is a sin for some arbitrary reason in many religions across the globe. Throughout her journey, Evelyn realizes the harm that has been inflicted on her generationally and the needless pain she is inflicting on her daughter through her homophobia and her need to adjust who her daughter is in front of her grandfather. This othering and stigmatizing of LGBT people not only serves no beneficial purpose but also only makes sense under an arbitrarily assigned moral system. 

What real harm do LGBT people have on children, society, the family, or the home? No more harm than any other person. More and more people every day even imply that some labels are pointless, meaningless, or harmful. 

People are quick to categorize feelings, experiences, and lives into words, phrases, and boxes, but for what? Is there any inherent good for this? When it comes to boxes used to separate us, no, there is only harm. We are not clothes needing to be separated before washing, whites in one basket and colors in another. We are not silverware in a drawer with each separate sexual orientation and gender identity neatly placed in its little section, forks with forks and spoons with spoons. We are colorful and powerful stories of human experience that exist right now. 

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” teaches us throughout its narrative that what matters isn’t some inherent meaning but rather the meaning determined by humans. It is the idea that nothing matters except what we say. For Evelyn, what matters is being Joy’s Mother.      

Part Two: Be Kind

Evelyn’s husband, Waymond, is a deeply integral part of her character’s journey. After being taught a lesson in the school of nihilism by her teacher Jobu, her husband gives her a weapon in spite of all the confusion. Kindness. To be kind is a means to fight back against the dark cruelty of this world regardless of if there is truly no meaning or not. To be kind is to love life and to love others who partake in it. To be kind is to wish for others to be happy in their own determined meanings of life. To be kind is not wanting to unnecessarily add any more struggle to another existence and to ease the burden of their pains. To Waymond, this is not simply a purpose but a means to fight back at the impossible odds of life.

Being prejudiced completely goes against this mindset as it puts pain out into the world. For many, acceptance is hard as it means relinquishing beliefs that you have been taught from back in your formative years. It means embracing change and admitting fault in not only your actions but in the system that taught you it was right. Simply admitting you’re wrong and apologizing isn’t enough, either. Neither is getting to understand the people that we have grievously hurt. Rather, while we can never undo the pain we have previously inflicted, we can put good into the world to counter that hate. We can use kindness to not only heal from the wrongdoings of our past but to make the world better than we left it. Everyone is prejudiced and is capable of inflicting its terrible consequences on others or on ourselves. Prejudice is a sickness everyone is born susceptible to. The cure for its dark symptoms is kindness.

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” is a story about finding our own peace through our own attributions of what is important to us. It gives us a great weapon against fear and the daunting pressures of life, kindness. It is a film that helped deafen the loudness of my anxiety surrounding death as it taught me the lesson that the control of my life and the interpretation of its meaning is up to me. Its way of calling out prejudiced actions as meaningless or fruitless hate with no real moral high ground is a lesson all must learn. Finally, it teaches us that life’s path of learning and confronting darkness is ongoing. While we may never be perfect, as long as we recognize that we have hurt others and take action, we don’t need the push from some high power to be good. Love is good, love is kind.

I give “Everything Everywhere All At Once” 10/10 for its actors, lessons, and aesthetics.