Review: Everything Everywhere All at Once

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Directed by: Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert

Written by: Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert

Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr.

Rating: [5/5]

When stuck in the mundane of life, it can be easy for your thoughts to slip into what could have been if different decisions were made. It could have possibly led to a different level of fulfillment or success that does not exist in your current reality. These thoughts have certainly come across the minds of everyone as it does for the central character of the audacious, ambitious, and fantastical Everything Everywhere All at Once. A feature that comes with so many layers can be incredibly silly at times but hones in some emotionally beautiful themes that make you appreciate life. 

With a daughter she barely speaks with, a disappointed father visiting from China, and an unserious husband, Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) must also contend with an IRS audit that could cause some serious financial issues. While on the way to their appointment, her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) suddenly informs her that she’s one of several Evelyns in the multiverse of the universe and she may be the one to save them all with a looming threat on the way. 

Titles of films do so much in trying to define a narrative with a simple collection of words and it will be hard to find one that defines its narrative quite like this one. This film very much exemplifies the idea of everything, everywhere, and all at once. Trying to encapsulate all of that into one feature surely would present itself to be an impossible task but the brilliance on display in this feature allows for it all to come together to be something wholly beautiful in the way we look at life and what could have been. It manages to cram so much into it while also feeling breezy and enjoyable as well. 

The central figure, Evelyn Wang becomes such a relatable character and the ideas explored through her makes us wonder what could have happened in our own lives if we had made different decisions. Evelyn sees that with different choices she could have been a movie star and living the dreams she could have always wanted instead of being married to someone she barely respects and a daughter who has not lived up to her expectations. Her longing allows for an exploration of the multiverse in a way done better than any other film has because it does not drill down in trying to explain the specificity of how it all works as it becomes more about how what it means on a character and emotional level. The mechanics are immaterial to the impact it has, which allows for further exploration of the characters, which truly makes this film shine. 

Each character of the feature represents something to Evelyn, whether it be a source of regret, disappointment, or even peril when it comes to the IRS agent Deirdre Beaubeirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis). However, while they all support Evelyn’s story they each get a distinct moment in the film that connects with the protagonist’s story overall but also the emotional multitudes this feature wants to navigate in a breathtaking manner. What could have been a one-note villain allows for someone with their own complexities in what they have lived and how it all compounds to when these individuals come across each other in this story. It shows how they were meant to intersect in this life or another and there’s some incredible beauty in that. 

If they have proven one thing throughout their young careers, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert have demonstrated to be very silly and comedic in how they tell their stories and this film certainly has many moments that will cause you to laugh out loud. Whether it be Evelyn’s mispronunciations that anyone with an immigrant mother would adore to the use of a specific trophy as a useful tool, this film has so many fantastic comedic moments. Yes, it can get overly silly at times but it gets wrapped into this earnest message surrounding the entire film. It splits away from the mundanity of life that truly befits the title of the entire feature, which then allows the emotional moments to land even harder. For goodness sake, I was getting emotional during a scene featuring a world where individuals have hot dogs for fingers. This film can truly be defined as magic. 

In a sense, this feature can also be seen as a collective celebration and recognition of Michelle Yeoh. A woman who has achieved so much but yet does not receive nearly the amount of respect she deserves. She has been a prominent and consistent icon for her entire career and the performance she puts in as Evelyn Wang serves as the culmination for it all in a way she deserves. It’s quite funny that in the multiverse where Evelyn is a movie star they use actual clips of Michelle Yeoh on the red carpet demonstrating her true star power and it comes in full force in this feature. She takes on the ridiculousness of this story in stride and lands every single beat to perfection. 

Her supporting cast also bring something incredibly special to the story with the aforementioned Jamie Lee Curtis but Ke Huy Quan and Stephanie Hsu represent the heartbeat of this narrative along with Michelle Yeoh. Ke Huy Quan’s comeback in this feature is nothing short of remarkable and he gives a multi-faceted and lovable performance as a dopey husband at a crossroads in his life. Stephanie Hsu, as must be said, remains on another level here in representing several characters at once but in a way that cuts at the very emotional fabric of the feature. Both hilarious and heartbreaking in what she has to represent she has made an indelible mark with her work in this feature and deserves to be a star. 

Not enough can be said about the silly and incredibly moving brilliance found in Everything Everywhere All at Once. It takes something that could have gotten out of hand and grounds it in this personal journey for a woman completely unhappy with her life and how it allows her to develop a new perspective on the beauty of it all. It allows us to reject nihilism and accept that we have come across individuals in our lives for a reason. This film contains so much love and adoration for its characters and the message it wants to convey along with the humor and action to create something that stands alone. A film unlike anything you have ever seen and an absolute masterpiece.

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