This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
demi adejuyigbe’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
the day i first saw this movie was what i call one of my "bad luck" days.
i have a long-held superstition of good and bad luck days that helps me deal with the latter, and the rule is simple: if something bad happens early in the day? gonna be a bad luck day. and that's okay, because a good luck day always follows. problem with a bad luck day is that it still makes me very irritable, as i contend with an avalanche of frustrating little events that i'm forced to engage alone, stuck feeling like they're beyond my control. a delivery missing the eta i specifically ordered it for. a driver recklessly ignoring the rules of the road. a highly-anticipated meeting being pushed last minute. this day, the avalanche came as i was planning a big party alone, feeling manic and stressed as friends failed to help me, feeling an anticipatory anger as it became clear the work i was putting in was going to be ignored and things were about to get even harder. cheyenne will often try and loosen me out of these manic modes, whether it's anger or task-focused tunnel vision, but this time i'd all but given up on getting out of it. the anger fed into itself like an ouroboros, making me feel even lonelier and angrier, until it was all i could focus on– effectively putting a damper on a nice night out with my girlfriend. we got dressed up for the premiere. she looked great. my mind was a thousand elsewheres, focused on every little task i had to do.
it always is– my greatest problem is an inability to stay present. i'm constantly juggling several different things, i can't take a proper vacation, i don't know how to exist without a task to accomplish. imagine how much my heart sinks as the movie begins and i watch michelle yeoh present a portrait of those same characteristics: a manic ball of neurotic energy with the weight of twenty tasks resting solely on her shoulders, affecting her own well-being as much as the well-being of those who try and fail to love her. i watched an audience laugh at the recognition of this type of person, looking to cheyenne at certain lines as if to silently say "oh fuck, that's me" and "oh fuck, that's you." my heart felt so loud, anxiously beating against the walls of my chest in fear of what the movie was about to tell me, about me. but i didn't come out of the movie with a lesson about myself. i came out of it with a lesson about cheyenne.
there's a shot in the third act where a rainbow of light surrounds ke huy quan and we go into a montage where we see him the way evelyn sees him: as goofy, as vibrant, as full of love and care and an ease that evelyn doesn't carry. the next shot is an incredibly romantic moment of evelyn looking at him with all the love in the world, a face she keep fixed on him for the rest of the movie. we've seen him in so many modes through the film– as suave, as badass, as a silly dad– but this is the first time we get to see the summation of all those modes, as a person whose existence in evelyn's life represents the only thing that matters: love. not necessarily romantic love, but care– the kind that goes between partners, between friends, between parents and their children. between an irs agent and the auditee whose life they hold in the balance. between a terrible chef and the raccoon in his hat. the feeling that someone in the universe wants to connect enough to say they care about you, in just a small way. and in that moment, i looked at cheyenne again, still looking through the self-reflective "oh fuck that's us" allegory i'd put on the movie, and saw her the same way. the woman i love, the woman who loves me, who cares so much that she'll never fail to remind me that nothing matters. i can't tell you if it was the first or the seventh time i cried while watching this movie, but it was certainly one of them.
we spent an hour after the movie stuck in a parking garage, where i told her everything the movie made me feel and thanked her for putting up with me. and not "putting up with me" in the "jokey boyfriend's birthday instagram caption" way, but in a real way: in fighting to keep me present as my mind runs through a thousand elsewheres, in understanding my neuroses and the insecurities that compound them, in sitting with me in conversation when i need it and silence when i don't. i tried to let go as much as i could for the night and we danced around drunkenly with a pocket full of plastic googly eyes and these rubber hot dog hands that she absolutely fucking hates. and every time i saw her, whether nose-to-nose, or across the room: rainbow of light.
i've talked to so many friends about this movie and been wowed at how we've all been able to relate to it, in very different but equally strong ways. my friend casey wisely described it as "an amazing magic trick to be universal but feel specific." multiple people i've talked to have described themselves as genuinely "feeling changed" after leaving the theater, and i feel so astounded to get to experience a piece of media that's done that for us all. because i feel changed too.
i feel loved. and because i feel loved, i feel unburdened. and because i feel unburdened, even on the bad luck days, i feel lucky.