Items | How language became the protagonist of “Everything, everywhere at the same time”

2022 already has a Film of the Year nominee – and that’s the acclaimed sci-fi action-drama “Everything, Everywhere at the Same Time.”

Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (known artistically as “Daniels”), the narrative starts from a simple premise already seen in several other productions on the film circuit – the multiverse. The plot centers on Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh in Career Best Performance), a Chinese woman who is about to be audited and lose the washing powder she owns next to her husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). However, Evelyn discovers the endless facets of a multiverse that is about to collide – and sees her as a rallying point to prevent everything she knows from collapsing in the blink of an eye. . And, unlike similar works, such as the recent “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”, the production dives headlong into the aesthetics of the absurd and offers a journey full of incredible fight sequences, fantastic performances and impeccable dialogues that range from existentialism to philosophical nihilism.

Despite the film’s many themes, one plays a central role in building the arcs and, because it’s presented so subtly, goes unnoticed by the audience: language.

The concept of language is not rigid and is a subject of analysis by several linguists, historians and philosophers. The Russian thinker Mikhail Bakhtin, for example, discriminates language as the system of language, the substance of which is “constituted by the social phenomenon of verbal interaction, realized through utterances”; in this way, the construction between interlocutors is essential for language and language to exist and, in this way, there is dialogism between one person and another.

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And what is the relationship with “Everything, everywhere at the same time”?

Even though Evelyn has huge problems on her hands, one of the obstacles she faces along her journey is the constant conflict between her Asian roots and all the characters around her – even her own, who struggle to build an identity that is bombarded by the social roles it has to play. This is how the clashes between Evelyn and her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu), her father Gong Gong (James Hong) and even IRS employee Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis) come to life in a metaphysical explosion that explores the language barriers in an original and thoughtful way. way, leading us to understand what is shown on the big screen instead of just teaching us from coercive didacticism.

The first layer to examine is the almost belligerent relationship between Evelyn and Joy. As a child, Evelyn was all but disowned by her family for choosing to marry Waymond, transferring the traumas of needing to be the perfect girl to Joy – who was already shunning the heteronormative, Asian construct Evelyn had cultivated since her youth. But Joy refuses to be someone other than what she is, which fuels the clash of generations and foreshadows future events. In this respect, it is language that serves as a support for reiterating the conflict: Evelyn unfolds in several personalities to respond to the request that is asked of her, both from the father and from the daughter. It is for this reason that the protagonist’s lines waver between Mandarin and English, as if searching for common ground to converse with the two and regain the long-lost concept of family. Joy, on the other hand, seems to be moving away from the cultural roots of her father and mother by refusing, albeit unconsciously, to learn Mandarin: if the linguistic distance between her and her mother was already perceptible, the chasm between her and his grandfather is screaming.

The second layer, although less explored, rises between Evelyn and Gong Gong. Even after starting a family and “establishing” her own business, she still bows her head to her father’s sense of superiority, as if seeking approval lost for decades. In that same desperate tumult, she also can’t shake off destructive thoughts about what her life might have been like had she not married Waymond and followed her dream of being an actress – a glimpse we see in one dimensions of the multiverse. However, the weight of “dishonor”, so to speak, is even greater when Evelyn cannot resort to the linguistic evasion of English to express her feelings for her father, returning, in a gesture obliged, to the Cantonese dialect – the roots of which still extend to permeate your mind and leave you locked in a bind.

Now even Evelyn and Deirdre’s relationship faces similar obstacles: the character played by Curtis is the ultimate representation of American predatory neo-imperialism, whose lack of empathy with Evelyn’s daily struggle (in this case , Asian immigrants) is reinforced by the way you speak. The dialogism between the two is nil; what exists is a one-dimensional rhetoric through which Deirdre touches on condescension and uses Evelyn’s lack of language skills to “put her in her place” and make her tremble for fear of losing the last shred of independence she has. .

The intersection of these structural issues is Waymond: even shunned by the more humble background and lack of ambition, the character is tasked with enabling Evelyn to be who she is, serving as the intangible and tangible support that keeps her from to commit madness. . After all, as can be seen in the film’s acclaimed conclusion, the variables of the multiverse are out of control – but Waymond remains there as the only constant, metaphysical and linguistic.

‘Everything, Everywhere at the Same Time’ goes beyond what the eye can see – and, for that reason, it establishes itself as a dense, complex film that reveals its deepest layers every time we look at it. let’s see again. And, when we stop to analyze it, the impulses of language function as a link between the endless subplots, allowing us to create a bridge between the reality of the film and our own.

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Robert King

I am Robert. I am the Managing editor of designerwomen.co.uk and I am responsible for deciding what goes on the website and what doesn’t. I have over twenty years of experience in online news publishing and by education I am a Masters in mass communication.
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