I have never cried harder in a movie theater than when I watched “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” I remember thinking I was just extra emotional that day, but then turning to my friends on either side of me, both with matching tear-soaked cheeks.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is a sci-fi/dramedy centered around Chinese-American immigrant Evelyn Wang, who enters parallel universes while dealing with a divorce, the IRS auditing her laundromat and her strained relationship with her daughter.
The movie hit close to home because it explores the experience of having a Chinese immigrant mother. My friends, who are not Chinese, also deeply felt the emotions of the movie because they’re daughters of women of color or immigrants.
I’ve seen a good amount of movies about Asian American identity: “Crazy Rich Asians”, “Minari” and “Joy Luck Club”. But the fantastical traversal of generational trauma in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” sets the movie apart. It goes beyond surface level stereotypes — for example, harsh parenting isn’t merely a plot point; it’s explored and dissected throughout the film.
After winning Best Picture and six other awards at the Oscars, it is now the most awarded film of all time. I was also excited that it won the Best Fantasy Film award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films because I feel like movies tackling race and identity usually aren’t in this category.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” scored quite a few wins and nominations for best performance in both leading and supporting roles. I faintly remember watching Michelle Yeoh in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” when I was little, so it’s great to see her finally get her flowers later in her career. I was also glad the casting didn’t reuse the same few Asian American actors Hollywood almost only casts (cough cough, Awkwafina).
While representation in media is important, I think “Everywhere Everywhere All at Once” does more than just that for the Asian American community. It brings a deeper understanding of the generational trauma and complex relationships in the community to a huge stage. Its creativity makes it relatable and encourages introspection.
It’s really hard to empathize with the Asian American and first/second generation immigrant experience without living it, and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is unapologetically true to it. Though the film doesn’t purposely cater to those who do not share the same immigrant family experience, it unravels this narrative in a way that allows anyone to better understand it.