Movie Review: Everything Everywhere All At Once
Everything Everywhere All at Once more than lives up to its name as we enter a particle accelerator of acting and performance that explores issues of metaphysics and personal meaning. At times slapstick, others ominously bleak, directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinhart make a beautiful mess saved by the magnetism of Michelle Yeoh.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Tsu, Jamie Lee Curtis
Directed by: The Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinhart)
Running time: 2 hrs 19 mins
By Katherine Monk
The Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinhart) create an entirely novel clump of entertainment with this all-dressed potato chip of a film. Yes, a potato chip of a film — even if it does focus on the particular dilemma faced by a Chinese-American woman who runs a faltering laundromat.
Starring Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn, Ke Huy Kwan as her mild-mannered husband Waymond, Stephanie Tsu as her lesbian daughter Joy and Jamie Lee Curtis as a demonic IRS tax collector with a hidden Sapphic side, the film is about potential — and the idea that there may be another version of ourselves in an alternate universe.
Indeed, there’s an infinite number of universes in this premise, which explains the rather long 2:30 running time — as well as the need to surrender to all of it. From a straight linear perspective, Evelyn is trying to finish her taxes when her husband yanks her aside, tells her he’s not really her husband, but a man from another dimension who is trying to save her life. Overwhelmed, Evelyn kind of loses it — but not before she slips into the current of another time line, and presto, this movie is everywhere.
….there’s an infinite number of universes in this premise, which explains the rather long 2:30 running time — as well as the need to surrender to all of it.
You see, taxes aren’t Evelyn’s only problem. She also has a dysfunctional relationship with her own daughter, Joy, who happens to be gay. Traditional Chinese values clash with a modern California reality, and the world cleaves into a cluster-fractal as different versions of Joy, Evelyn, Waymond and our comic relief tax collector trip into each other. From a universe where people have fingers like hot dogs, to one where Yeoh is a famous martial arts star, we see personae collide through fact and fiction.
In this particle accelerator of acting and performance, the Daniels are able to revel in the absurd as they ponder bigger issues of metaphysics and personal meaning. It’s an awful lot to throw into a single film, but it ensures we’re never bored, or feeling a sad sense of the familiar, but it does — at times — push our patience because the tone isn’t always friendly.
There’s a very dark vortex at the centre. In fact, the one film this movie reminded me of was Being John Malkovich — because it used Yeoh’s long Hollywood lineage as part of the plot — but where Kaufman was absurd and ironic, this movie is absurd and emotionally sincere. It makes it slightly more human when it comes to the messaging, but truth be told, a little more disturbing when it comes to tone.
THE EX-PRESS, August 18, 2022