A lot of Chinese filmgoers says the film is messy like the poster.

May 30, 2022

Why Is Everything Everywhere All At Once Getting Such Polarized Responses In China?

After watching Everything Everywhere All At Once, audiences in China are in two states: excitement and disappointment. Why? I did several interviews and got some screenplay tips.

It was really intriguing to hear diverse points of view about Everything Everywhere All at once. Some of them adore it; they are ecstatic, thrilled, and inspired. The majority of them are screenwriters or filmmakers, while the others are filmgoers who are disappointed, dissatisfied, and even loathed.

This situation caused me to think. Why?

I guess I found some clues when watching it.

The film’s stylised storytelling style is unusual to Chinese filmmakers, and it has hit several of them. Costs are low, yet the traditional way of telling a story is broken. That’s a really attractive prospect, and many Chinese filmmakers aspire to make a one-of-a-kind picture. (The situation is particularly unfavourable for them in China right now.)

I interviewed some filmgoers and asked them why they didn’t like Everything is Everywhere all at once. (I believe it is important for filmmakers.)

I drew conclusions from their responses:

  • The central narrative is flawed. The situation is chaotic. (I lost interest since I couldn’t follow the story.)
  • The rationale is illogical or cannot be deduced quickly.

Some Buddhist friends were captivated by the movie’s symbols. Unfortunately, these symbols are read by fewer people.

A lot of filmmakers fancy this still, cause it is a symbol, presents Chinese female and culture.

When I was watching the movie. I am well aware of these two points of view, but I am unable to bridge the gap between them.

The concept of parallel space-time or time travel is not fresh, particularly in tv series (Flash or Star Trek, both of them got amazing performances). Everything Everywhere All at Once is a good film in terms of writing, especially given the subject matter.

So, why don’t Chinese filmgoers like it?

I believe the answer is not that the audience cannot accept this type of ‘chaos’ style; rather, the feeling/emotion gap causes their disappointment.

The relationship between the mother and daughter is the most significant throughout the film, and we can see this in the climax. However, the film did not focus on this crucial relationship. The mother and daughter’s relationship and conflict were not stressed in the beginning, so when this relationship becomes increasingly crucial towards the end, the audience will find it odd.