Everything Everywhere All at Once

Everything Everywhere All at Once ★★★★★

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When I saw the film the first time, I wholeheartedly loved it, but there was a nagging feeling in the back of my head that something was off. I ignored the feeling because I couldn't put into words what was bothering me. I was still overtaken by the overwhelming energy and the emotionality of the film, so I just focused on everything which I connected with and what I loved about the film.

This time around it was like watching a different movie. This time around it really stood out how Evelyn is the only fully thought out character and how the story really short changes both Waymond and Joy. The moment when Evelyn remarks about her better life if she would have never met Waymond is especially bad considering instead of letting Waymond react, the film moves the plot forwards and has Alpha Waymond pop up. Waymond's agency is really nonexistent as he remains a largely reactive character who pretty much mainly exists a foil to Evelyn with the conflict he presents her with.

Joy stood out even worse as her entire characterization is just baffling. The film makes a focal point about her queerness and about her desire for acceptance and how Evelyn's homophobia and internalized repression inherited from her father's upbringing are forcing her not to be as accepting as she could be. However then her character is about nihilism as well?

The nihilism of being a failure and a disappointment, things that weren't really even fleshed out in the story. It's like there are missing scenes about her failing with her goals in life, because the only thing that even hints towards this is Evelyn saying Joy is aimless, much like her. It's like the film brings up her queerness, then puts it in the backburner, making it about her failing to live up to he mother's expectations?

And yet it doesn't feel like the aimlessness is even a point either because the resolution to Evelyn's arc is about her having the courage to be strong in front of her father, bringing up that her daughter is gay. So the conflict is about Joy's queerness and Evelyn's homophobia after all? My head is swinging trying to keep up with what the film is doing, which is clearly partially the intention considering how maximalist and erratic the film is, but I am gonna say that there's a serious lack of coherency and cohesiveness here when it comes to the themes.

I still loved Evelyn's internality, her dissatisfaction with life and her expressing some raw and rough emotions, but I kind of wish that the story was way better fleshed out than it is because the spectacle can only take it so far. I loved the action, the visuals and especially the beats in the theater, but watching the film at home I found a lot of them grating and repetitive. I especially found it weirdly contradictory that a film, which in the end wants to be about kindness, also wants to laugh at oddness. There are so many visual bits, which are all about laughing at weird things, so the eventual take away of "be kind" kind of feels backhanded as a result.

Joy's queerness is honestly so superficial that I kind of wish it wasn't a thing to begin with. Like the idea of her being withdrawn, her not visiting the parents and us not getting any other reason to assume that's the case other than her mother's homophobia makes it absolutely wild that her alternative reality self is the manifestation of nihilism and how Evelyn's story is all about rescuing her daughter from losing faith and dwelling in a pit of despair.

I wish the film had picked one lane. It could have stuck with the idea of expectations and the depression of not meeting them because that would make a ton of sense when it comes to embracing nihilism. However since the film insists on her queerness, it just feels like a grave misunderstanding of how a queer person would react in that situation.

Sure, there are probably some who would embrace nihilism, but Joy specifically has a girlfriend. She has a love in her life and she's already gotten used to not seeing her mother not too often. If she were to give up on chasing her mother's acceptance, it wouldn't mean nihilism and the idea that it would is pretty absurd because it positions the nuclear family as an undeniable fact of life and if you reject it, life would "crumble".

The theater is a magical place which I love, but sometimes it really can make you ignore things that were always there in the movie. Nothing's gonna take away how I felt the first time around, but these are the issues that I didn't know how to express then.

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