Cine Suffragette
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Cine Suffragette

Jamie Lee Curtis As An Administrative Psychopath / Kindhearted Queer A.I? Yes, Please.

Image from the Instagram of Daniel Kwan, Co-Writer and Co-Director, Everything Everywhere All At Once

A crazed auditor winning awards for said auditing, who regularly downs dubious-looking calcium drinks. A psychopath with an expertise in wrenching out common office supplies and turning them into deadly weapons in 0.2 seconds. A partner to Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) in a lifetime, with sweetness in her face and hot dogs as fingers. Also kind-hearted, when she, as the auditor, taps into benevolence, giving Evelyn and her family another chance at extricating themselves from debt.

This is Deirdre Beaubeirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis) and she exists, well, because she does. The question for all of the characters in Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022) is where they exist; each moment in their lives, as Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan) tells Evelyn, his wife, determines the direction of their next moment, and so on. While Evelyn discovers the shocks and delights of dereistic living, and ramifications of these versified moments, vis-a-vis a form of AR that doesn’t quite look like anything we have created yet, Deirdre is introduced as a character who has been living in this variegated state for some time. Multimodality is how she canters through living.

The film, firmedly Sci-Fi, also a family drama, and ultimately, an individual existential crisis story, centralizes on concepts of personhood in a continuous loop of what-if scenarios. Sure, films have done this before (Sliding Doors made a small, albeit significant, cultural splash in the 90s) and, by creative extension, there are films that delve into multiple worlds creepily and seamlessly (Jordan Peele is a master, ahem, Get Out, Us), but Everything Everywhere All At Once does something different by combining a searing mother-daughter pathos with the extraordinary — truly, extra ordinary — world of re-making world that magnifies the shifting priorities that come when we shuffle around our cognizant leanings into life.

Evelyn, for all of her adaptations, remains basically the same persona throughout the film, which appears to be one of its lessons: even through cataclysmic anachronisms, one pretty much is who one is. Then, the film throws a wrench in this theory, because Deirdre is a complete shape-shifter in her elemental realities. We see her lovingly at home with Evelyn, embracing, evocative of the picture perfect domesticity of Revolutionary Road. We experience Deirdre with flowing contempt and abject boredom, an image of authentic The Office caricature, as she first meets with Evelyn and Waymond. There is also Deirdre who seems to want Evelyn dead, so another theory creeps up. The same way it is possible that our past experiences can fortify us in facing current ones, are any of our sour grape moments just so damn sour that they lurk beneath the surface, waiting for their memoir to be triggered?

With all the deserved kudos for Yeoh, who is phenomenal and anchors the film in her worried, spastic, time journeying as Evelyn, Curtis’s role as Deirdre stands out due to its plethoric switch in body temperature, and her precision in each of these states. She embodies the wily, unhinged, maximalist potentials of AI, integrated into life scene-shifting so fully that the metaverse seems like a baby step compared to what — and who — Deirdre lives through. Even suggesting the film’s conceptual mise-en-scène could be a multiverse is short-changed. What Deirdre shows us in Everything Everywhere All At Once are the emotional potentials of physically reinstantiating ourselves to wreck an unimaginable havoc and support an equally unimaginable healing.

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A multilingual Medium publication about empowerment and representativeness in film.

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Dina Paulson

Dina Paulson

Film and TV. storytelling. dinosaurs.

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