Neta Bar is a business administration sophomore and opinion columnist for Mustang News. Her views reflected in this piece don’t necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.

With “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” the studio A24 has proven that they have their finger on the pulse of the world today and they have expanded its target audience while simultaneously zeroing in on the stories that will indulge the unique needs of these fresh eyes. In other words, this film has something for everyone, without sacrificing the storytelling integrity that A24 exhibits without fail. 

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is a multifaceted film, with layers ranging from existential philosophical commentary to Pixar-esque wholehearted comfort. Like a ‘choose your own adventure’, the audience is given all they could possibly ask for  –– the viewer just has to choose which theme they will take away.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is stylistically individualistic and thematically distinct. However, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the cinematic parallels found both in the plot and in the delivery. We see an experimental take at philosophical commentary as the film grapples with existentialist themes and the teetering line between nihilism and absurdism. In this way, one could compare “Everything Everywhere All at Once” to a healthy fusion of the feel-good optimism of Pixar’s “Soul” and the harrowing experience that is Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York.” That is to say, this movie is one of optimistic nihilism, with the simple yet poignant bottom line: nothing matters, everything matters.

And with that, the aforementioned ‘choose your own adventure’ comes into play. One movie-goer could walk away from the film with a takeaway of disheartening pessimism, that happiness can only be fleeting and each of us are extraordinarily small and powerless in the face of the nature of the world. However, another could leave this cinematic experience a more hopeful person than when they entered it. Perhaps joy is hard to come by, but it is everything and it is everywhere. 

The climax of the film highlights exactly that. As Evelyn deescalates the violent mob by fighting fire with a fire extinguisher –– connecting each individual with their respective pleasure –– the film visually demonstrates how no joy is too outlandish nor too mundane. The blind rage that the mob exudes evidently stems from a place of not just sadness, but confusion. A feeling of such utter lostness occurs and without a way to cope, so we turn to the suit of armor that is apathy, isolation and, most effective of all, anger.

The ‘choose your own adventure’ hits another fork in the road as the film extends the opportunity for the theme of depression, if the viewer so chooses to interpret it that way. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” hits the closest to home at this point, particularly when Joy attempts to make her mother understand the incurable hopelessness and pain that she endures at nearly every moment of the day. She is desperate for someone to not fix or take it away, but at the very least, to understand. She wants someone to share the darkness, comically personified by the Everything Bagel, that plagues all facets of her life, no matter if they’re good or bad. 

The film is earnest in this depiction of depression while successfully steering clear of being cliché. Instead, there is a visceral feeling of understanding and sorrowful comfort, one that was desperately needed by countless moviegoers. 

This film graciously allows the viewer freedom of choice. Not so much in the sense of cinematic interpretation, as each theme can be fairly easily deduced, but rather, one can choose to what extent they walk away with hope and to what extent they see a reflection of their own psychological afflictions. They can choose to let the silence of Joy and Evelyn as rocks in a different universe be a moment of healing peace, or one of powerful introspection. Nonetheless, one common denominator remains consistent: “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is a work of thought-provoking, potentially life-changing art, if the viewer so allows it.