Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) Movie Review
Sci-fi / Adventure
In the new film “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, we are introduced to Evelyn Wang, the owner of a laundromat who is under audit by the IRS. The film takes us on a journey through the multiverse, where Evelyn discovers metaphysical wisdom and questions everything she thought she knew about her life, her failures, and her love for her family. Michelle Yeoh delivers a virtuoso performance as Evelyn, showcasing her wide range of talents, from martial arts skills to superb comic timing and the ability to excavate endless depths of rich human emotion.
The film begins with a happy moment in Evelyn’s life, spending time with her husband Waymond and their daughter Joy, but things quickly take a turn for the worse as Evelyn prepares for a meeting with an auditor while simultaneously trying to cook food for a Chinese New Year party that will live up to the high standards of her visiting father, Gong Gong. On top of that, Joy wants to bring her girlfriend Becky to the party, and Waymond wants to talk about the state of their marriage. Just as Evelyn begins to feel overwhelmed by everything happening in her life, she is visited by another version of Waymond from what he calls the Alpha verse, where humans have learned to “verse jump” and are threatened by an omniverse agent of chaos known as Jobu Tupaki. Soon, Evelyn is thrust into a universe-hopping adventure that has her questioning everything she thought she knew about her life, her failures, and her love for her family.
The majority of the action takes place in an IRS office building in Simi Valley, where Evelyn must battle IRS agent Diedre, a troop of security guards, and possibly everyone else she’s ever met. Production designer Jason Kisvarday creates a seemingly endless cubicle-filled office where everything from the blade of a paper trimmer to a butt plug-shaped auditor of the year award becomes fair game in a battle to save the universe. Editor Paul Rogers' breakneck pace matches the script’s frenetic dialogue, with layers of universes simultaneously folding into each other while also propelling Evelyn’s internal journey. Match cuts seamlessly connect the universes together, while playful cuts help emphasize the humor at the heart of the film.
Born from choices both made and not made, each universe has a distinct look and feel, with winking film references ranging from “The Matrix” to “The Fall” to “2001: A Space Odyssey” to “In The Mood For Love” to “Ratatouille.” Even Michelle Yeoh’s own legacy finds its way into the film with loving callbacks to her Hong Kong action film days and the wuxia classic “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” The fight sequences, choreographed by Andy and Brian Le, have a balletic beauty to them, wisely shot by cinematographer Larkin Seiple in wide shots allowing whole bodies to fill the frame.
Yeoh is the anchor of the film, given a role that showcases her wide range of talents, from her fine martial art skills to her superb comic timing to her ability to excavate endless depths of rich human emotion often just from a glance or a reaction. She is a movie star, and this is a movie that knows it. Watching her shine so bright and clearly having a ball brought tears to my eyes more than once.
The film ultimately is a story about family, love, and the interconnectedness of everything. It encourages viewers to reflect on the choices they make in life and how those choices impact not only their own lives but the lives of those around them. The film suggests that even in the darkest of moments, there is always hope and that the power of love can transcend all obstacles.
One of the most remarkable aspects of "Everything Everywhere All at Once" is the way it seamlessly blends genres. At its core, it is a sci-fi adventure film, but it also incorporates elements of romance, comedy, drama, and action. The film's ability to balance these various genres is a testament to the skill of the Daniels and the talented cast and crew.
In addition to the exceptional performances from Yeoh, Quan, Hsu, and the rest of the cast, the film's production design, visual effects, and cinematography are also noteworthy. The IRS office building, which serves as the primary setting for much of the film, is an impressive feat of production design. The film's visual effects are also stunning, with the multiverse sequences feeling both otherworldly and grounded in reality. The cinematography, meanwhile, captures the action and emotion of the film with precision and beauty.
Overall, "Everything Everywhere All at Once" is a film that defies easy categorization. It is a love letter to genre cinema that manages to be both deeply philosophical and wildly entertaining. It is a film that will make you laugh, cry, and think deeply about the nature of existence and the power of love. Whether you are a fan of sci-fi, action, romance, or comedy, this is a film that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
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