Everything Everyone All At Once is a cinematic love letter to Asian Americans. The movie encapsulates all of the Asian-American experience: the pain, bitterness, ugliness, and also the fleeting moments of happiness and joy (haha, see what I did there).
The “absurdist comedy-drama” follows Evelyn Wang, a Chinese immigrant, who has to save the multiverse from a destructive force amid an IRS audit. To do so, she must make contact with alternate versions of herself from parallel universes. Although it seems like an action movie, the film contains romance too. The love story between Raymond and Evelyn Wang is equally heart-wrenching as it is heartwarming, but the most important relationship in the film is between Evelyn and her daughter, Joy Wang. As a queer first-generation Asian-American daughter myself, Everything Everywhere All At Once represents parts of my identity in such a beautiful and authentic way like no film has ever done before. Needless to say, I was a sobbing mess when I came out of the theater.
On the evening of March 12th, 2023, Michelle Yeoh made history as the first female Asian-identifying woman to win an Oscar. Yeoh, who won Best Actress, opened her speech with, “To the little girls and boys who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities. This is proof that dreams–do come true.” Her co-star, Ke Huy Quan, became the second-ever Asian winner of Best Supporting Actor. “My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp, and somehow, I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage,” he said in his Oscar-winning speech. Quan delivered a beautiful message to the many dreamers out there to never give up on their dreams.
The critically acclaimed film won several SAG awards and one BAFTA, but the accolades it took home last Sunday are a testament to the importance of representation. Although the film was well received, there were some negative reactions. Among them were white middle-aged moviegoers who didn’t understand the appeal of a film surrounding an Asian-American family that shows the fun of maximalism and the beauty of an existentialist worldview. My take? There is a difference between simply not enjoying a film and actively disliking it because you can’t comprehend a family structure not usually depicted on screen.
Regardless, Everything Everywhere All At Once deserved every bit of success it received. Thank you to the cast of the film, especially Quan and Yeoh, for showcasing to Hollywood that Asians can excel in the arts and for inspiring many young Asians to pursue their dreams in the industry.