Multiverse and Reality
The story and theme of Everything Everywhere All At Once are far from simple. However, audiences embraced the film and helped it become the highest-grossing A24 film at the domestic box office. It is how the various parts of the film work towards an emotional, rewarding, and complicated ending. In addition to depicting a beautiful depiction, the cultural convergence of Chinese and American traditions fills the assimilation of the film. Like Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari, the audience saw the disconnection between the members, similar to a narrative that sees an outsider arriving in a foreign land. It also tells the story of an immigrant family struggling to make ends meet and connect.
There is a sharp observation of the inherent nihilism of the modern generation, the unified existentialism of all problems, fractured relationships, and identity crises. However, non-meditative confrontation does externally overwhelm the melancholic substance of the matter. Vice versa, it comes in the form of multiverse madness, complicated, fun, touching yet absurd. Such an explanation is an innocent attempt at explaining the film. With everything related to it, including the ending, it is not the first film to use the multiverse as a storytelling tool. On the other hand, many other films use the trope to turn their back on a narrative that is getting thinner. Unlike most films with the same theme, the film uses the multiverse to say many interesting things about everything. Such things can be digital culture, parental relationships, and youth depression.
Introduction of Characters
Everything Everywhere All at Once tells about Evelyn, the severe but stressed, Waymond, her good-hearted goofy husband, and Joy, their hot-tempered daughter. Each character experiences their kind of identity crisis before living reality begins to unravel. The protagonist, Evelyn, embodies an essential kind of despair. It is because she is depressed at the state of her life. She was well aware of what she had not accomplished. On the one hand, the audience knows she is the only Evelyn in the multiverse which has never excelled at anything. With each passing moment, the audience has missed the opportunity to make something of a living. In addition, during the IRS meeting, she did not let go of her failed dreams.
Besides Evelyn, there is Joy. She always felt alienated from her mother interpersonally and to the degree that she wanted people to acknowledge her oddity. As the film progresses, the audience recognizes her as Jobu Topaki, a mind-blowing person who exists in every iteration of the multiverse of Joy. On the other hand, the original Joy is only looking for meaning in everyday life; Topaki is always looking for meaning on a cosmic level. In every multiverse, everything is convincing yet random. There is no truth whatsoever, but nothing means anything. The last character is Waymond, a husband who does not seem to suffer as profoundly as his daughter and wife at first. However, he is always saddened by the loss of love in his marriage. Instead of looking for a cosmic purpose or meaning in life, he wants to love and be loved.
The Structure of Reality
From a philosophical point of view, Everything Everywhere All at Once responds to the early essentialist rationalist theme. The film explores how a structure of reality is how human consciousness in knowing or understanding metaphysics. In the era of modernism, many philosophers tried to find out the nature of the absolute. Many of them also try to understand logically any things everywhere at once. Still, lengthy descriptions of such idealist philosophers explain how human consciousness works. However, it is also how realities outside the individual’s consciousness function.
As such, an individual mind has more or less reached philosophy at its final stage. For some, the idea is that the individual human mind can somehow understand all the features of reality. By being a cute illusion, each individual is not ready to reach the top level. Such parallels and idealism describe how Topaki’s character thinks such a fundamental notion favors the mind at the level of rational understanding. In other words, it makes people less miserable. The antagonist can experience everything that is happening at any time. Instead of giving her a greater sense of meaning, it makes her downright miserable. It turns her into an analyst but experimental at making creative kills.
Jobu Topaki, Absurdism
In such an honest take, Everything Everywhere All at Once describes the existential theme and condition of absurdism. The depiction of absurdism occurs when there is a contradiction between two paradoxical images. In the film, Jobu Topaki introduces Evelyn to a human desire for meaning and purpose. She also shows Evelyn a cold, meaningless structure of the universe. Regardless of not tripping, it is what happens when an individual is under the heavens feeling the love. The feelings of love seem very meaningful when the individual sits with the individual’s lover. However, when the individual gazes at the infinity of the inanimate universe, it is hard not to wonder if the meaning of a human being is just a pleasant delusion.
Such imagination also represents Topaki’s character. She is absurd and contradicts the idea that an individual’s private life has a meaning. In later phases, it experiences the meaninglessness of life in many multiverses. Evelyn could have lived the contradictions between her ordinary but unsatisfying life. On the other hand, she sees such a contradiction in another timeline. The contradictions propelled Topaki into nihilism, centered on bagels but not an existential journey. She thought that individuals could deal with absurdities by committing suicide. Apart from supporting the idea, she does not have any literature on the tradition of absurdism that supports ending one’s life.
The Contemporary Philosophy
The leap of time is like a leap of faith. If an individual turns to religion for meaning or a type of rebellion, the individual will admit the absurdity of existence in such a belief. However, the individual can also find meaning at the level of identity. From a paradoxical point of view, it embraces a temporal universe but has no inherent meaning. The individual will continue to search for meanings that are nothing less than looking for a soulmate in various multiverses. In such a way, cosmic absurdism has no hope of nihilism. It has positive similarities between humanity and the freedom that existentialism adheres to.
At some point in Everything Everywhere All at Once, Evelyn and Topaki have a very dark option of absurdism. Topaki’s desperation made her want to be sucked into the empty bagel void. She prefers the initial choice over facing the absurdity of human situations in general. Humans would prefer nothing at all because of Evelyn’s dramatic long tantrums. From a contemporary point of view, absurdism can be an outward leap that almost embraces absolute cosmic meaninglessness. However, the cosmic did not go far. There may not be a purpose for anything, life, or the existence of an individual.
There is no regularity for a reason, arbitrarily, or by accident. Cosmic nihilism has always led to pessimism, which takes up most of the negative view of existence and life. Pessimists have always believed that conditions of existence often make life very bad for most people. It acts as the vibe of Topaki’s circle-headed freaks. After all, Topaki and her subordinates will always embrace being sucked into the very experienced bagel pit. Such pessimistic as well; it goes further in an understanding of the desire for meaning.
Scientifically, humans can be sure that eventually, the sun will explode and die. There will be a hot death that people cannot escape to the universe. In such a process, all history and human consciousness of nature were destroyed forever. It becomes cosmically meaningless given the cosmic confusion of reconsidering a desire for meaning. Perhaps, humans will reconsider the idea that true meaning is something that humans can find in the first place. If bagels will finally suck everything into oblivion, nothing happens that matters.
A Sense of Optimism
Nihilism, absurdism, and existentialism are about what an individual must do ethically and practically. On the other hand, the contemporary point of view is functionally turning existentialism back into spiritualism. Fundamentally, the thing that most contradicts existentialism is how people should live. Spiritualism consists of many classical taboos about the meaning of reality. The implication of spiritualism will be an ideal thought for Topaki and her subordinates. They confirm nihilistic spiritualism by claiming that the cosmos is cold. For the most part, life plays out as hopelessness and pain with little moments of happiness sprinkled in many corners. At some point, Evelyn could play a role with a chilling sense of the cosmos.
However, she stops Topaki because of Waymond’s simple but effective plea for everyone to be friendly. On the other hand, they can attack the reductive and clichés, as if being good is an addiction on a large scale. The meaninglessness of the taboo gets something meaningful, not just nihilism and pessimism that act as existential principles. However, science and taboos do not just display human creations like bagels. There is nothing humans ever do that matters. All the effort to find purpose and temporary happiness is equivalent to sleeping from listening to chill music. However, that does not mean the Waymonds will stop at one point. Inspired by Waymond’s optimism, Evelyn calls for kindness in the face of fear. She ultimately decided that existence was something worth fighting for.
At the film’s end, Evelyn and Joy’s future in various timelines are uncertain simply because they have decided to avoid bagels culling. They end up having to stay true to their decisions every day. Instead of reality being chaotic, meaningless chaos is a necessary contingent. In one scene of a raccoon chef, it is not such an unreasonable reality because they cannot understand it. It is a fact that such a reality does not make sense in a clear, logical way. The taboos that existentialism reverse-engineer seems to exist in the scene in Everything Everywhere All at Once.
At such a point, Evelyn and Topaki can admit that such a reality will always make no sense. At the same time, there is a space for them to create their purpose and meaning. It seems that contingent contexts will randomly create meaning even if the universe has no inherent sense of meaning or order. When they feel stupid or scared because the reality of existence does not make sense, the problem is that it is not even them, the audience. Such reality itself will always be a mess. Finally, it asserts that the universe is inherently significant. Instead, it takes a debate route simply because reality is not laden with meaning. In conclusion, it does not mean that each individual cannot create truth in each life.
- Pölzler, T. (2018). Camus’ feeling of the absurd. The Journal of Value Inquiry, 52(4), 477-490.
- Stewart, J. B. (2011). Kierkegaard and existentialism (Vol. 9). Ashgate Publishing, Ltd..
- Webster, N. (2022). Everything Everywhere All at Once and the Euphoria in Empathy. Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.