Robin Moon (they/them)’s review published on Letterboxd:
honestly the thing that has held me back from reviewing this movie sooner even though i saw it in theaters is that i just didn’t think i would have anything to say about it that you haven’t heard a few hundred times from other people, like i just don’t really think i have a very unique take on it? but after seeing it a second time (at over 35,000 feet on the back of a headrest, so not exactly the overwhelming visual spectacle it was the first time i saw it), i realized that it’s not just a great movie, it’s one that i genuinely find very personally meaningful, so i can’t really just write a little blurb about it when i write an end of the year post or whatever.
so, yeah, my entrypoint to this movie was basically “i love michelle yeoh.” i also happen to love scifi/action movies, and i like the idea of multiverse stories, though now that the mcu has gotten their hands on that one some of the shine has certainly worn off. i also generally end up loving martial arts movies when i’m prompted to watch them, though they also aren’t something i generally actively seek out, which i probably ought to fix at some point.
but, again, the main thing that got my butt in the seat was being an unabashed michelle yeoh stan. so luckily for me this movie is not only a tour de force of her kicking the crap out of everyone around her, it’s also designed to absolutely live or die with the enormous feats of acting it’s asking from her. and, appropriately enough in a movie whose central thrust is about choosing life and love in the face of overwhelming pressures to choose death and despair, she delivers everything the movie needs and then some.
this is a mindbending scifi/action movie, but at its core is some of the most intensely personal stuff you can possibly imagine. the everyday stresses that bury the joy of life. a marriage falling apart. contemplating ending one’s life. just… grappling with the fact that the world is bigger than we are, that we are puny. taking all of the above to its logical extreme and concluding that nothing matters, that there’s no point in caring about anything. walking right up to that brink… and then coming back from it in the most resounding way.
there are so many things to love about this movie. but i think the moment that will forever be seared into the deepest parts of my movie fan consciousness is when the protagonist’s husband pleads with his wife to stop fighting. when one of his alternate universe versions explains to her that being kind and trying to set people at ease isn’t naivete, that he doesn’t know less about the world than she does, that it’s a conscious choice. that it’s the way he fights.
this is probably starting to sound like hippie-dippie liberal bullshit, but what keeps it from being that is what the protagonist does with this. she turns around and keeps fighting, but it’s like… it’s like… well, i don’t know what it’s like! i’ve never seen anything like it before. it has the rhythm of a martial arts fight, but it’s just her throwing all the things that are missing from her opponents’ lives at them. she fights them with love. she fights them with caring. but she still fights. because she needs to save her daughter. because nothing’s going to get in her way.
i’m actually struggling to put into words how i feel about this moment, and it’s just a tiny part of the movie? and it actually doesn’t even end up being the lynchpin of the movie after all, because there’s another reversal where her daughter almost gets her to let her go, and at first it seems like it’s the right thing to do, but she has to try one more time. she has to tell her that she matters to her, and why. she has to tell her that she loves her. and if she walks away from that, that’s her decision, but it’s not going to be because she didn’t fight for her.
love is kind, but it isn’t meek. love is mighty. love is resilient. love doesn’t go away when it isn’t convenient. love gives us the strength to fight. love can be how we fight. sometimes that means punching assholes in the face, sometimes that means telling someone something they don’t want to hear, sometimes that means just being there. what matters is that we never stop fighting.
i still don’t think i’m really bringing anything new to the table here, i still think it’s pretty unlikely that everything i’m saying hasn’t already been said better by others. the reason i still feel like it bears repeating is because this movie matters to me. i am not arrogant enough to think that some nobody writing a glowing review of this movie is going to make one iota of a difference in the grand scheme of things… but i think this movie would want me specifically, and you specifically to do it anyway. because no matter how much it might seem like nothing we say or do matters, it does matter. because the universe is infinite but it is not uncaring, and even if it were uncaring we can choose to care.
choose to care. i am literally begging you. there is very little else we have control of. it’s true that the world and its problems are bigger than us. we’re puny and we’re insignificant. but what we think, what we say, what we do matters. it all matters. all of it matters. everything matters. even if it only matters to one person, it matters.
i’m going to talk about math for a second, and i’m probably going to bungle this explanation. please know that my beautiful mathematician fiancx is shaking vir head at me for getting this wrong if so. and ve will kick my ass, but not in highly choreographed martial arts fights, more of the tying me to the bed and whaling on me with a cane kind of kicking my ass.
… see, the funny thing is that’s not actually entirely unrelated to the movie because there’s some super explicit bdsm stuff in it? BUT ANYWAY let’s not get sidetracked.
so, here’s my understanding. do you know what infinity plus one is? infinity. do you know what infinity plus two is? still infinity. do you know what infinity plus infinity is? STILL infinity. again, if i’m understanding this correctly. (from what i understand there are big infinities and small infinities but those are all ultimately still infinity? so they’re like the same but not the same? idk oh no my fiancx is getting the ballgag let’s move on.)
so, my point is this. yes, the universe is infinite. it’s probably the biggest infinity we can begin to comprehend.
but what if you, yes, you also contain an infinity? because as far as i know, the soul has never been measured, never been quantified, from what i understand it cannot be quantified. there is something, some unseen force, that makes you you, that makes me me, that makes us us.
i don’t know if this is making any sense, but what i’m getting at is this: i believe each and every one of us also contains an infinity. and if that’s true, the fact that the universe’s infinity is bigger than yours does not matter. an infinity is an infinity.
you matter as much as the universe.
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