Opinions, Pop Culture

“Everything, Everywhere, All at Once” and its cultural significance

When “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once” was released in 2022, it shook audiences to their core across the world. The film touches on topics that have been underrepresented in mainstream Hollywood: namely, Asian American and LGBTQ+ experiences.

Within the intersection of these identities, EEAAO focuses on how mother-daughter relationships are affected through Evelyn and her daughter, Joy. Joy’s dark feelings of isolation and rejection span across every universe in the film. This is a literal interpretation of the turmoil that many people experience due to a lack of acceptance as they are.

Most viewers can find some connection to these characters, but the strain in their relationship especially hits home for those in the Asian American and queer communities.

As Evelyn and Joy’s relationship heals, so can the audience. By the end of EEAAO, Evelyn becomes more receptive to her daughter’s sexuality and open about her feelings, two previous points of contention in their relationship.

“Of all the places I could be, I just want to be here with you,” Evelyn says to her daughter. The film takes its viewers through a cathartic journey of queer acceptance and healing generational trauma.

EEAAO doesn’t just focus on Evelyn’s relationship with her daughter, but also the roots of Evelyn’s struggle. As an Asian American immigrant, Evelyn has a unique perspective. She resents her life because it feels like a series of bad decisions and lost potential, and ends up projecting these frustrations onto her daughter and husband, Waymond.

Through multiverse travel, Evelyn explores all of the ways her life could have gone, and she gains a new appreciation for her current life and family. It’s the little things.

“In another life, I would have really liked just doing laundry and taxes with you,” Waymond tells Evelyn.

“Everything, Everywhere All at Once” touches on Asian American and queer identity in a way that is both sensitive and realistic.

One example of its sensitivity toward LGBTQ+ experiences is the moment when Evelyn introduces Joy’s girlfriend to Joy’s grandfather. Evelyn chooses to refer to Joy’s girlfriend as Joy’s “very good friend,” dismissing her daughter’s sexuality. This same scene also portrays family dynamics in Asian culture, where younger family members will shield elders from difficult news, even at the expense of authenticity.

The intercultural narratives in “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once” are vital to its success. The film has been nominated for 11 Academy Awards and any wins will be well-deserved.

Whether or not EEAAO wins Best Picture at the Oscars, it is the most culturally impactful film of 2022 and will continue to resonate with those who see themselves in it.

“There are people who felt something in this character. People who are rooting for roles like this to exist, people who are rooting, also, for me to elbow more space or even just to stand here,” said Stephanie Hsu, who plays Joy, to Entertainment Tonight.

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