Why I was dissatisfied with Everything Everywhere All at Once

I figured out why I liked “Transient Universe” (The Multiverse of Mom) and why I thought its philosophical exploration was lacking. The film is not about “love saves all”, but about the existential and Eastern Zen question – why do you deserve to live? What makes our lives meaningful?

In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Li Mu Bai begins, “Instead of the joy of attainment, I am surrounded by a silent sorrow that exceeds the limits of what I can admit.” By the time he ends, he says, “I don’t want to attain the Way, I just want to look at you.” “I have wasted this life, I will use this breath to say to you, I have always loved you …… I would rather wander around you, be a wild ghost for seven days, follow you, even if I fall into the darkest place, my love, will not let me become a lonely soul forever.”

Here, “attaining the Way” is an abstract grand meaning, while “looking at you” is a gaze from life. Li Mu Bai realized that, compared to the grand but nebulous Way, in the end, what supports one’s life is the gaze of daily life, the moment The individual and the individual are happy with each other, resulting in concrete love and tolerance. Existentialist philosophy advocates that “existence comes first, and then essence”, and even essence itself is a dubious word, while people live their whole life in “existence”. The greatest enemy of man as a “being” is “nothingness”, a world that he can never understand, cannot change, and is haunted by absurd and nightmarish experiences. How to overcome “nothingness” is the question that existentialism aspires to answer, and it is also the philosophical issue of “The Whole Universe in a Flash” – the “evil force” represented by Jobe is the “nothingness” within human beings. The “evil force” that Jobe represents is the nothingness within human beings, and Evelyn Yang as Evelyn needs to free her daughter from nihilism and find her own “meaning of existence”.

The antidote the film tries to give is not “love”, but the fusion of “self-choice”, “full feeling” and “linked love”. “It is the fusion of the three. Self-choice is a respect for the free will of human beings, who, after recognizing the meaninglessness of existence itself, reinvent themselves and create themselves, and find meaning in their own continuous choices. In other words, the solution to existentialism is not to “be true to yourself” but to “create yourself”, to realize that the meaning of your life is accomplished in your choices. That is why Evelyn wanted to experience so much of the universe, to feel how different life would have been if she had made other choices. Every human decision changes one’s life, and the collapse of meaning lies precisely in the collapse of choice. The daughter’s stifling comes ostensibly from her mother, from the East Asian family, but actually from the fact that she is limited to making choices as “Evelyn’s daughter,” not as herself, and her stifling comes from the surrender of her free will. A love that loses respect for individual choice leads to a “tyranny of love”.

So when the two stones talk to each other (the stone comes from “Dream of the Red Chamber”, here is a symbol of the existence of Evelyn and her daughter) when Evelyn realizes how suffocating she and her family are for her daughter, she decides to let go for a while, but why does the mother stone follow her daughter stone who is alone in the abyss, why does Evelyn not let go in the end, but keeps trying even after seeing her husband in the mire of life, seeing herself After fully feeling all the universe and still choosing the present moment, she decided to have a discussion with her daughter about love?

Is it just a “love saves all” cliché? Is it just a conservative return to a family-oriented narrative? After careful consideration, I think not. The creator is answering the question – without “linked love”, the individual, even if he or she embraces free will, is still heading towards nothingness. What Michelle Yeoh conveys at the end is not “controlling love”, but “I respect your choice”, but “I also need to face up to the fact that I love your feelings”. “I can’t stand by and watch you go into nothingness, because you deserve to be loved, you deserve to exist, and the meaning of your existence is not because of fame or fortune or being a good person, but when I look at you and you see me in my eyes, we are meaningful to each other, and as long as you care, you are worth a million dollars in the world. The only thing that matters is that you care. This echoes the words of Li Mu Bai in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” – “I don’t want to achieve the Way, just look at you.”

So what this movie wants to say is not “return to the family”, not “love saves everything”, but exploring the balance between “free will” and “linked love”. “It is a philosophical proposition of how to get out of nihilism and fall in love with life again in the face of these many Evelyn and Jobe in the world.

In this regard, I have great respect for this film, which still aspires to answer ultimate questions and not just produce quick-perishable flashy landscapes. It is a seemingly clichéd but heavy-hearted film with a truly current quality that can be easily misidentified. If one is aware of its sensitivity to language, the Tower of Babel-style language dilemma, the multiple interweaving of languages (Cantonese, plastic Mandarin, English, and Yangjing) reflect how difficult it is for one person to fully understand another, and why we continue to struggle to understand one person across the difficulty. Perhaps this is a glimpse into the author’s narrative ambition.

–The Story of Your Life by Ted Kang and Driving My Car by Ryusuke Hamaguchi.

Thus, the fundamental limitation of the film is not that “love saves everything”, but that – while it makes such a profound philosophical statement – it puts too much emphasis on the family in the argumentative process. The film’s fundamental limitation lies not in the fact that “love saves all”, but in the fact that – while it makes such a profound philosophical statement – the argument is too much about the family and too little about how society leads to human suffocation.

Women’s stifling is not only due to the patriarchy of the home, not only due to the “tyranny of love” and the “gaze of patriarchal representatives” within the family but also to the whole panoramic prison of society, from the long-standing social prison of discipline, repression, and humiliation. She also stems from a whole set of panoramic prisons in society, from a long history of discipline, repression, and humiliation within social prisons. The woman is expected to be “some kind of mainstream woman” rather than a political person, a free person, taught to be a reproductive machine, an elite model, and an object of male desire, but her voice is drowned out. This is an important source of female suffocation, and a family is only a form of internalization, but it is far from covering this feeling. The stifling of the daughter comes mainly from her mother and grandfather, from within the family, and the social dimension is removed, so the exploration of the issue becomes less rich.

The narrative rejects Nezha’s revolutionary, Virginia Woolf-style farewell to the family and brave departure (Moment by Moment), and this path to reconciliation seems wishful because it does not fundamentally have any impact on the patriarchal social and family structure. It puts its hope in individual compassion and patriarchal improvement, and it cannot respond to the key meaning of “struggle” for “modern man’s self-formation” and cannot justify itself. –The stifling of women comes from the fact that society is not a place for women.

How can we believe that reconciliation is the antidote to healing when the de facto oppression and structural contradictions remain unchanged when women’s suffocation comes from both social and familial oppression?

In other words, neither “linked love” nor understanding each other is wrong in itself, but without emphasizing the social level of oppression, without confronting the contradictions, without pointing out in the narrative the value of unity in struggle (rather than unity in reconciliation) for the modern sense of self-improvement, “Transient The Whole Universe” is still an airy solution, a de facto euthanasia of the oppressed, only that it looks more compassionate and shiny.

Free download of Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) 

Above is the review of the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022), if you like this movie, you can download it here for free: [Free download of Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)]

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