Everywhere Everything All At Once

Justine Toh ponders the "God-haunted" existential musings of 2022's best film: Everywhere Everything All At Once.

I’m calling it now: Everywhere Everything All At Once is the best movie of 2022.

Maybe it has to do with expectations: I walked in anticipating The Matrix; instead, I got The Matrix mashed up with The Tree of Life.

Even then, the movie exceeds that surprising combination. It’s simultaneously an immigrant drama, a moving reflection on family dynamics, a sly critique of life online where social media is full of better-looking, more successful versions of ourselves, and an ode to mundane (maybe even meaningless) lives spent doing “laundry and taxes”. Truly: everything, everywhere, all at once.

Rather than explain the plot, let me vibe the film instead. From The Matrix, Everywhere inherits kinetic kung fu fighting, courtesy of main character Evelyn’s ability to access the skills of her infinite incarnations across the multiverse. Then there’s her Neo-worthy burden of being “the one” destined to save the cosmos from disappearing into a black hole bagel (don’t ask) of meaninglessness.

And if Terrence Malick’s film The Tree of Life contrasted “the way of nature” with “the way of grace” through a stern patriarch and nurturing mother, Everywhere also uses the family to dramatise the existential options before us. Daughter Joy’s nihilism threatens to consume everything. Dad Waymond may be a pushover but his kindness proves formidable even in the face of the void. Can mum Evelyn save the day – and her family?

Apparently, Daniel Kwan, one half of Everywhere’s directing duo, was once a Christian. He may no longer believe, but the existential musings of Everywhere are God-haunted. We find ourselves facing the terrifying prospect of an ultimately meaningless existence. All we want is for someone kind and forgiving – Evelyn? Waymond? God? – to say to us: “Of all the places I could be, I just want to be here with you.”