There is no simple way to sum up the Oscars favorites Everything Everywhere All At Once.
It begins with the premise that a Chinese American immigrant named Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) must enter the multiverse to stop an alternate version of her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), from destroying her world. Evelyn’s husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), is along for the ride.
The film is two hours of chaos punctuated by absurdist humor and non-stop action sequences, followed by a series of emotional revelations about Evelyn, Joy, Waymond and the human condition. Without much notice, EEAAO it becomes a depiction of how someone – Joy – can be brought back from the end of their existence. Suddenly, the viewer finds themselves face to face with a version of their own emotional pain as the film’s fantastical scenes give way to something much more relatable: an unexpected but masterful story about mental health.
There is Joy’s depression, a powerful current beneath her casual facade. It is the endless misfortune that Evelyn feels after her father’s rejection. The grueling demands of running a small business as an immigrant woman have taken a toll on Evelyn’s life—and her ability to marvel at the beauty of the everyday. Although Waymond may be preternaturally kind, he is not immune to the agonizing loneliness of feeling that the fissure in his marriage is beyond repair. In the Alphaverse, Joy Jobu’s alternate persona wonders if there is a way to end all the pain; the nihilism that afflicts him is simply too much to bear.
Where to watch “Everything everywhere at once”
Rather than saying the words despair and suicide, Jobu creates an “Everything Bagel”, which is literally a bagel with every experience and emotion. When considered at once, the totality of human experience renders life meaningless. The void in the center of that bagel is Job’s response to suffering.
“The bagel is where we finally find peace,” Jobu tells Evelyn toward the film’s climax. In Evelyn’s universe, a parallel conversation with her daughter includes Joy confessing, “I’m tired. I don’t want to hurt you anymore.”
Lorissa Carin, a 22-year-old Filipina American at San Francisco State University, sat in awe as she watched EEAAO, which he did more than once. Carin, who has experienced depression and suicidal thoughts, and whose mother is an immigrant from the Philippines, saw striking glimpses of her own life and struggles in the film. In fact, there are almost too many such moments to count.
In Joy and Evelyn’s close relationship, Carin recognized her own desire to connect with her mother in ways made difficult by the limitations of language, culture, and generational differences.
Although Jobu is first positioned as the film’s Big Bad because his nihilism threatens human existence, Evelyn comes to understand that he should be embraced, not destroyed. Carin found this movement as someone who worried that her suicidal feelings were “monstrous”.
When Jobu and Evelyn find themselves turned into rocks and hanging on the edge of a cliff, in a universe where humanity does not exist, Carin recognizes the stillness and non-judgmental connection she craves in moments of pain, uncertainty and depression.
In an Asian-American group telemedicine therapy session that Carin attended, she and the other members talked at length about the scene where Jobu walked into Everything’s Bagel void, but Evelyn approaches to stop its disintegration. Everyone imagined whose hand could be on their shoulder in a moment of crisis.
“It was very healing to really visualize that scene in my life, because it represents suicide, it represents nihilism, but it also shows the connection and the desire to connect,” says Carin, who is writing her senior thesis on the prevention of suicide among young Filipino Americans. after the pandemic.
Filmmaking duo Daniels declined to speak to Mashable about the portrayal of depression and suicidal thoughts in EEAAO, but the film certainly makes its values about mental health clear. As Evelyn races to save Jobu, and by extension Joy, she recognizes how vital an authentic, loving connection is to her daughter’s mental health—and to her own well-being.
At first, Evelyn wants a crisp resolution. Evelyn confidently tells her father, visiting from China, that Joy has a girlfriend, perhaps thinking that finally revealing the truth will convince Joy that her mother sees her pain, and it’s worth it. But Joy refuses an easy reconciliation, forcing Evelyn to face the complexities of their relationship. Yes, Evelyn may be disappointed by the tattoo of his daughter and the fact that he never called, and yes, sometimes life feels absent of meaning or meaning, but there is a more important truth.
“I always want to be somewhere with you,” says Evelyn. “I will always, always want to be here with you.”
After a few beats, Joy falls into a hug with her mother. In the alternate universe where Evelyn tries to save Jobu from the bagel vortex, Jobu’s hand comes out of the darkness, and Evelyn grabs it to pull him out of the void.
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Brett Wean, director of writing and entertainment outreach at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, says the film contains important ideas between action and absurdity.
Although it would be a mistake to interpret the film as prescribed, Wean says the overall message reflects what mental health professionals know to be true: life can be taxing and exhausting, and kindness and genuine connection can be a healing balm for emotional pain and isolation. .
“It’s the story that life is messy and our connections with other people are what make us whole and give us balance, and in the end that makes things OK, and that’s where the true meaning of our lives comes from Wean says.
Wean says that reach out to a loved one for a straightforward, direct conversation about mental health or suicide(Opens in a new tab) it may feel awkward or uncomfortable at first, but it may be all you need to connect to help. At the same time, Wean says that the film should not be read as an indictment of those who have lost a loved one to suicide. While it is useful to know risk factors and warning signs(Opens in a new tab)Wean says that survivors of suicide loss should never blame themselves if they miss those indicators, if their loved one does not show them, or if they were not able to connect with the person who struggled.
However, through the lens of Joy’s return from the brink, the film helps dispel the myth that once someone starts feeling suicidal, they cannot heal or recover from those emotions.
“The big idea here is that suicide is never a matter of fate, or predestined, or somebody’s destiny,” Wean says.
Carin says that Evelyn’s statement that she would always choose to be with Joy even if she could be anywhere in the multiverse helped her solidify and embrace the idea of ”being nowhere else but here.” Staying in the present moment, and not getting lost in the unrealistic expectations of what could become, helped Carin to spread the fatalism and nihilism that manifests itself with her depression.
“The philosophy at the moment is to do things from love, which was inspired by the communities and people around me who showed me love,” says Carin.
If you are feeling suicidal or experiencing a mental health crisis, please talk to someone. You can reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988; the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860; or Project Trevor at 866-488-7386. Text “START” to Crisis Text Line at 741-741. Contact the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI, Monday through Friday from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm ET, or email [email protected]. If you don’t like the phone, consider using the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Chat at crisischat.org(Opens in a new tab). Here is a list of international resources(Opens in a new tab).