Three cheers for Michelle Yeoh
I am no movie critic but I was, for once, greatly pleased to see Everything, Everywhere, All At Once showered by the Academy awards. My favorite last year was The Fabelmans and I thought Steven Spielberg deserved yet another Oscar. Still, I’m happy for Everything, Everywhere, All At Once. The movie didn’t have much of a circulation in Italy and stayed in theaters very briefly, though I suppose it’ll make a comeback after the Oscars. I watched it after reading two highly positive (and entertaining reviews), Jack Butler’s on National Review and Kurt Loder’s on Reason.
This is a movie without an ounce of cynicism in its narrative bones. (On the other hand, those in search of timeless human truths might wish there were more here than “You have to be kind” and “We can do whatever we want, nothing matters.”)
All of this is undergirded by a genuine and heartfelt emotional core. The film explores not merely the comedic or the kinetic implications of multiple realities but also the philosophical ones. The consequences of paths not taken, the contingencies that have brought us to the moments we inhabit, how to make sense of a world that can seem to lack meaning—through the lens of the multiverse, Everything, Everywhere, All At Once shines a light on our own reality, raising questions about our own lives and humbly attempting to supply its own answers. Are they complete? Is the film’s moral vision totally satisfying? Maybe not, but that’s an unfair standard.
The production budget was $25 million, and the movie grossed $100 million at the box office. It is a very small production for a sci-fi/action movie. “Wakanda Forever” cost ten times as much (and grossed over $800 million).
I found Everything, Everywhere, All At Once uplifting for two reasons. First, I watched Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness a little before and thought nothing particularly interesting could come out of the multiverse idea, which turned out to be on a dead track, at least in the hands of Marvel’s screenwriters. Well, Everything, Everywhere, All At Once proved me wrong. But, second and more importantly, because I sometimes have the impression that our creativity is somehow drained: that the best Hollywood can do is scraping the barrel of Marvel’s characters, created in the 1960s or 1970s, to come up with some new movie. While there is no shortage of entertainment supplies (movies, TV series, etc.), there is little that is new, that really goes beyond adding little touches of technology or refurbishing old stories in more contemporary fashion. I liked Everything, Everywhere, All At Once less than Butler and Loder (I’ve a few ounces of cynicism in my blood) but I thought it was something that shows great creative powers. I don’t want to sing the praises of David vs. Goliath in movie making. Small is not always good. But to keep the flame of creativity on I suspect we need—in movie making too—brave challengers, that tend to be outsiders and hence inevitably smaller. This is a good example.