Everything everywhere and at once perfects optimistic nihilism

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In 2012 the legendary twitter account @horse_ebooks wrote: “There is just so much going on.“Despite the fact that this message borders on delirium, it especially captures the feeling of exhaustion that comes when trying to keep up with the flow of information that requires attention every day. It is in this place of chaotic submission All Everywhere All at once steps to clarify.

Everything is everywherethe last of the directorial duo known as the Daniels (swiss army man), centers on Evelyn (played in dozens of incarnations by Michelle Yeoh), a woman who is just trying to file a tax return to keep the laundromat she owns with her husband Waymond (Ke Hai Quan) running. Her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) wants to bring her girlfriend to the birthday party of Evelyn’s (James Hong) elderly father, who is old-fashioned and disapproves of their relationship. All the while, Waymond struggles to find a way to tell Evelyn that he wants a divorce. It’s crazy told, but also unfolds as a perfectly understandable story about the chaos of life and the feeling of being pulled in a thousand directions at once. And then the multiverse opens.

The stories of the multiverse are countless in popular culture. You don’t have to look beyond the Marvel Cinematic Universe to prove it. (Ironically, Daniels – Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert –refused opportunity to work on Lokiwho was seriously multiversal possibilities.) But rarely are they explored as deeply and meaningfully as in Everything is everywhere. Evelyn’s journey into her multiverse gives her perspective, a chance to reconcile her boring job, whiny husband, and troubled daughter with versions of her life in which she’s a hibachi chef, a movie star, and, oddly enough, a real rock. Equally soul-searching and science fiction, Kwan and Scheinert’s film pushes it all to the emotional and logical extreme. But instead of reaching some nihilistic conclusion, he poses a more optimistic question: if there are no rules, no consequences, then why not go crazy?

The absurd runs through every scene. Navigating the multiverse involves doing stupid, random things like eating lip balm or receiving an award, and every time Evelyn or a member of her family makes a decision, another timeline branches off. The fact is that seemingly insignificant or insignificant decisions can lead to completely different results. Through Everything is everywherethe characters do ridiculous things to gain new powers, but in the end, it’s the tiny and unlikely ones that end up changing the course of the party Evelyn throws for her father.

At first it is easy to understand why Evelyn is unhappy with her job, her husband, her daughter. But seeing how their lives could have turned out, the myriad possibilities of who they could have become, reveals a deeper truth. If nothing matters, then the only thing that can it’s about what you choose. The multiverse may contain an infinite amount of pain and grief, but it also contains an infinite amount of creativity, passion, beauty, and connection.

Through this lens, cynicism itself boils down to just another choice. There is nothing naive or ignorant about appreciating small moments, small acts of kindness. In a world where many things can seem insignificant, choosing cruelty or hopelessness is of no more value than choosing kindness and compassion. If anything, choosing destruction only speeds up the entropy.

Everything is everywhere not only rejects cynicism, it refutes it. And that may be its most defining value. The film takes the concept of an infinite multiverse – and by extension, the vast, overwhelming nature of our own experience – and explores it both critically and compassionately. From time to time, he literally looks into the void and does not blink when the void looks back.


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