Everything Everywhere All at Once is undoubtedly the most creatively chaotic experience I’ve ever seen or likely will ever see.
It features endearing performances, stunning visuals and a surprisingly touching and relatable story.
The film seriously has a little bit of everything. From Michelle Yeoh kicking serious tail in action sequences, a zombified Jamie Lee Curtis busting out wrestling moves and raccoons piloting humans. There’s no end to the absurdity/genius from directors/co-writers Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.
Not everything works. Some of it feels like it’s just bizarre and “out there” just for the sake of being weird. It’s probably not possible for humans with hot dogs for hands to be anything, but unorthodox. But that messy chaos works in the film’s favor.
This isn’t the case of a pair of filmmakers playing well within the established lines to land a billion-dollar gross or earn endless accolades come award season. Everything Everywhere is more about filmmakers blurring, pushing, cutting, and stepping over the lines to create a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience.
It’s presented in a way that seems like the film would have been so much easier to pull off as an animated feature where audiences go along with flexible rules making the live-action approach even more daring and admirable.
Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) is stressed. She’s trying to maintain the desperately in need of a completely overhauled laundromat she owns with her impossibly cheery husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan).
While she just won’t come out and admit it, Evelyn has some struggles accepting that her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu) has a girlfriend (Tallie Medel). Evelyn assumes this won’t go over well with her elderly, traditional father (James Hong, Turning Red). In truth it’s Evelyn who’s having a far harder time than her father.
There’s also the matter of the laundromat being audited and their prickly IRS case worker (Curtis, Halloween Kills), has just about run out of patience. Not that it matters much as Evelyn’s life is about to dramatically change following a conversation with Waymond from…another world. Hey, 2022 is the year of the multiverse. We’re just living in one of them.
Evelyn might hold the key to beating a cruel entity that’s wiping out various worlds provided she learns how to access the skill sets of the various Evelyns across the multiverse. Some of them have obvious skills like the brilliant martial artist or acclaimed singer versions. The secret skills of others like the pizza sign flipper are less obvious.
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While Cate Blanchett (Tar) seems destined to receive her third Best Actress Oscar, Yeoh at minimum deserves a nomination for one of her strongest career performances. Yeoh has always displayed tremendous versatility in her roles. This one is probably her most challenging as she’s tasked with playing multiple takes of the same character.
Prime Evelyn also must go through her own emotional metamorphosis. She starts off bitter and easily frustrated with Waymond and overly judgmental of Joy before eventually realizing her approach isn’t best.
Kwan and Scheinert don’t make this an overnight process allowing Evelyn’s growth to feel earned.
Huy Quan is the betting favorite for Best Supporting Actor thanks in small part to his first prominent big screen role in decades. He took an extended hiatus after entertaining performances in films including Goonies and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Feel-good stories are nice, but the real reason Huy Quan should hold the Oscar statuette is for providing one of 2022’s best performances. Hsu also gives a solid performance as the slighted daughter.
Cinematographer Larkin Seiple provides some stunning imagery. Some scenes have an elegant, classic visual while others show a commitment to go as big and bold as the script demands. Son Luk’s score is equally adaptable going from graceful drama to zany and lively.
By its nature, Everything Everywhere All at Once won’t be for everyone, but for those willing to settle in and go along for the ride it’s one of 2022’s must-see films.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Photo Credit: A24 Films
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