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Movie Review: “Everything Everywhere All At Once” - Through an ADHD Lens

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

"Everything Everywhere All at Once" brilliantly encapsulates the chaos and multifaceted challenges of living with ADHD. The protagonist's struggle to manage her emotions, constantly juggling numerous tasks while being prone to stress, mirrors the daily realities of those with ADHD. Her detachment from her husband, who is on the verge of seeking a divorce due to her inability to connect, poignantly highlights the relational difficulties often faced by individuals with ADHD.

The film uses surreal and hyper-stylized scenes to depict the protagonist's internal world. Her experience in the tax office elevator, symbolized by a bagel and headphones, serves as a metaphor for the overwhelming rush of life flashing before her eyes - a familiar sensation for those with ADHD who often feel bombarded by sensory and emotional overload.

Her impulsive reaction, such as punching an IRS agent due to a misinterpretation of her actions, illustrates the impulsivity and misreading of social cues that can be characteristic of ADHD. This is further exemplified in a scene where her daughter becomes both her savior and her destroyer, representing the internal tug-of-war often experienced.

The film's exploration of medication and its effects is particularly resonant. The protagonist's journey through various 'verses' (or realities) after taking her 'first pill' is akin to the trial and error process in finding the right ADHD medication and dosage. The symbolism of saying "I love you" amidst chaos could represent finding the right treatment balance, leading to moments of clarity and the unveiling of hidden potentials

The narrative also delves into the protagonist's relationship with her daughter, reflecting the complexities and intense emotions in familial dynamics affected by ADHD. Scenes like pushing her daughter to her limits, resulting in mental fragmentation, are metaphoric of the high demands and expectations that can exacerbate ADHD symptoms.

Furthermore, the film's depiction of the protagonist using improvised methods to overcome challenges, such as using a riot shield spotted in a brief glance for defense, mirrors the creative problem-solving often employed by those with ADHD.

In conclusion, "Everything Everywhere All at Once" is a cinematic embodiment of the ADHD experience. It captures the chaotic, overwhelming, and often misunderstood nature of the condition, while also highlighting the unique strengths and perspectives that come with it. The film is a powerful, empathetic, and enlightening portrayal, offering both a mirror and a window into the lives of those with ADHD.


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