Saturday, September 17, 2022

Everything Everywhere All At Once


Image credit: A24

We all know that art imitates life and becomes ok or not depending on the social and cultural trends of the time. The fascinations of the day are explored in many mediums and it’s particularly interesting to watch how filmmakers tackle them, especially in a strange cultural climate where trends are changing so rapidly and people are consuming more and more media at such high speeds and volumes. For a little while I have been concerned that the cinema has been suffering; not keeping up, or clinging to a bygone vibe and formula, but last night I watched a film that changed my mind and restored my faith: Everything Everywhere All At Once

The film follows Evelyn (Michelle Yoh) and her chaotic and unfulfilling life running a Laundromat with her husband. While struggling to gain her father’s approval, accepting her daughter’s homosexuality, and overcoming the language barrier as her business gets audited, she is visited by a version of her husband from an alternate universe, who warns her that there is a great evil threatening the multiverse, one that only she can stop. Suddenly thrust into a quest to save her world and her family by jumping between various forms of herself within various universes, Evelyn goes on an insane journey of space and self to find love, strength, and method in madness. 

A combination of martial arts, inter-dimensional action thriller, and pop-culture comedy, Everything Everywhere All At Once is a real assault on the senses in the absolute best way. Underneath the inter-dimensional verse-jumping story is a really lovely message about the importance of love, family, and acceptance with the central ‘villain’ being the difference in generational views regarding family and culture. 

The rapid shifts in language between English, Mandarin, and Cantonese best convey this underlying drama with the older generations speaking in their first language while conversations between parents and daughter are in fragmented English, highlighting the familial disconnect as well as the cultural divides between immigrant and first-generation Asian-Americans. 

Image credit: A24

The film is a high-octane visual treat with all the weirdness inspired by the pop-culture theories of the multiverse literally being thrown at you with great gusto, matching the rapid-fire pace of the martial arts fight sequences as well as the sound design. The performances are all incredible, the story –despite its complex nature- is actually not too tricky to follow, and there’s a fantastic continuous thread of comedy that runs all the way through, heightening all the other emotional strings that are being tugged. 

I’m not sure if any of this made sense to read, it’s a very hard to film to write about, but I would absolutely recommend that you watch Everything Everywhere All At Once. It's delightfully strange, original, and brilliant. 

Director: Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, 2022

Cast: Michelle Yoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tallie Medel, Harry Shum Jr., & James Hong

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