About a month ago, I watched a movie. Was it one movie, three movies, or three hundred? I really couldn’t tell you. If you haven’t guessed, it was Everything Everywhere All At Once.
Now this was one of those movies that I didn’t so much want to see as had to see. There was so much buzz about it from friends in in the real, live, actual world (not Twitter!) that I was convinced. An impressive feat, considering I usually avoid watching anything considered “good cinema”… I watch things to turn my brain off, thank you very much.
It turned out, though, that the people were right. (Side note: when are we ever wrong??) It was undeniably fantastic. And yet, I never wrote about it for climate culture, because suddenly everything was everywhere, all at once. In the past several weeks, we’ve had catastrophic flooding in Montana, our rights stripped nationwide, and just a couple days ago — we got further confirmation that doesn’t care about people, planet, or precedent in their West Virginia v. EPA ruling. Speaking of which… Could it have been worse? Most definitely. Was it still bad news? You betcha.
I was also hesitant to write about Everything Everywhere All At Once, because it is a daunting task! It’s the kind of movie you could watch 100 times and still find something new. I remember sitting in the black theater, watching the credits roll until the very end thinking, “I know there’s a message, but I can’t quite articulate it.” (I was thankful I didn’t have to write some college essay about it for sure haha). It is such a gigantic, groundbreaking, undefinable movie that it was hard to intellectualize. I knew that it made me feel something, though. An undeniable belief in the power of love.
So what finally got me to writing? Well, our girl Ingrid — who is always here for some more quality cinema than I am. After she saw the movie, we got to chatting about it. And as your resident pop culture expert, I can now announce, Everything Everywhere All At Once is the climate movie you need to see, because it is about grounding yourself amidst the chaos of our daily lives. What’s more chaotic than the climate crisis? The climate crisis happening while everything else continues to happen, that’s right.
This movie takes place in the multiverse, but our protagonist, the central Evelyn (as it’s a multiverse… we meet many different Evelyn’s with many different lives) is living the mundane horror of dealing with the IRS. #relatable. At the same time, though, because she’s a person living in our oppressive system — she’s dealing with ten million other things — an estranged father, a drifting daughter who she struggles to connect with due to her sexuality (as well as good ol’ fashioned teen angst), and a crumbling marriage. While I am not dealing with any of those things, the sheer sense of OVERWHELM cut me to the core. It is the defining sensation of our lives. Or at least, of mine.
Pretty soon, Evelyn is traversing universes, discovering the multiverse, where there are infinite versions of herself leading different lives. She’s trying to save the whole thing from her daughter, whose brain has so unraveled at the sight of the infinite possibilities that she’s convinced nothing matters and life is simply not worth living.
Along the way there’s an apocalyptic everything bagel, a world of loving hot-dog fingered people, and a silent scene between two rocks that will make you cry. It is a strange, riotous, funny, and at times, uncomfortable movie. It feels so divorced from reality that you may never again see something that has gotten reality so right.
What makes this movie work, despite a breakneck pace and seemingly disconnected genres and ideas, is that it all comes back down to love and the way that a mother’s love for her daughter can pull her back from the literal edge. And so like so many of the best climate culture pieces I’ve profiled in past, I left the theater ready to handle, or at least endure, the everything, everywhere, all at once of climate catastrophe, a crumbling nation, and even the little things… like whether in my 20s, I’ll finally learn to cook and do the dishes and go to bed at the right time and get up without scrolling Instagram and, and, and. I was ready for the onslaught of everything, because love is one thing that is everywhere all at once and actually does matter. It makes this fight worth it.