It was good, but I didn’t find myself as blown away as some people seem to have been. I did have some thoughts, so here they are (spoilers!).
Nietzsche in the multiverse
The big theme of EEAAO is responding to despair and nihilism. Evelyn eventually resolves to commit to what is good in her life, regardless of the things that are bad or that she wishes had gone otherwise.
But EEAAO almost becomes very Nietzshean. The thing that drives Jobu Tupaki to insane despair is being forced to experience all of her different multiverse versions simultaneously. This is begging for a Nietzschean resolution: the solution is true amor fati, going beyond mere acceptance of what is, to actually loving what is. In fact, the most extreme that Nietzshe gets is to argue that you should be happy with the eternal recurrence of your life as it is. The multiversal version is even more hardcore: you should be happy with all possible versions of your life.
This felt like a hole to me. There’s all this setup about how terrible full multiversal awareness is, and then Evelyn is just kind of fine with it in the end? Or she loses the full version? It’s unclear, but I like to think she goes full amor fati on it.
Is it all in Evelyn’s head?
A common trope in fantastical films which return to the mundane in the end is for the film to be structured in such a way that it’s consistent that all of the fantastical elements could have been in the protagonist’s head. Nobody except them ever sees the dragon, there’s a mysterious lack of property damage, the real change was inside you, geddit? Usually the director can’t resist a little “…unless?” by dropping a Fantasy Keepsake right at the end which can only be explained fantastically.
EEAAO does this to the hilt! There is a perfectly mundane timeline: Evelyn does not punch the auditor; she goes home and prepares for the party; she has what looks a psychotic break; she snaps out of it with some new realisations about her lift; she mends some relationships and makes some new ones. Everyone’s dialogue is consistent with this - Joy in the mundane timeline sounds like mundane Joy, not a multiverse-spanning villain.
There’s even a Fantasy Keepsake of sorts: at the very end we see Evelyn “listening in” to the other realities. But this is quite weak, since it’s entirely consistent with it all being in her head! That’s especially odd since there’s an obvious choice for a very physical keepsake: the headset!1
All this makes the case for “it’s all in her head” surprisingly strong. But… if it’s all in her head, how does she know that Joy is depressed? The re-evaluation of her husband could be entirely internal, but it seems that at the start of the film Evelyn does not know that Joy is depressed. There is a scene where they are hiding together and Evelyn starts talking about all the darkness inside Joy (and Joy suddenly pays attention!)… only for Evelyn to then veer off and talk about Jobu Tupaki. Perhaps Evelyn does know about Joy’s depression on some level, and the fantasy is her way of telling herself that.
Unclear. Not that it has to be clear - part of the fun of the ambiguous ending is making it actually ambiguous.
There’s one other potential telltale detail: the instructions on the back of the divorce papers. Are they there in the mundane timeline? I didn’t think to look when I first saw it, I’ll have to look next time! ↩