When a film’s hype outshines its content or global reach, it can leave a disappointing conclusion. With its international debut almost 2 months after its initial US release, Everything Everywhere All At Once was immediately in danger of bearing the same fate, as fans subconsciously formed preconceptions from hyped social media reactions. Capturing the essence present in the magic of live theatre, the film is instead an experience uniquely held by anyone immersed in its 140-minute runtime, defying boundaries and expectations of what cinema is able to achieve.
Running a coin laundrette with her husband, Evelyn Quan (Michelle Yeoh) is struggling to finish her taxes. With an audit looming over the family’s head and tensions with daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) reaching breaking point, life as Evelyn knows it turns on its head. Discovering infinite versions of herself across an ever-growing multiverse, Evelyn is pushed to read her full potential in the face of ominous evil.
What most encompasses the astounding breadth of directing duo Daniels’ craft is Everything Everywhere All At Once’s ability to be satisfyingly complex in an incredibly simplistic framework. When discussing the structure of scriptwriting, writers are often encouraged to begin with their protagonist fulfilling a simple task, such as looking for a hairbrush. Daniels deploy this effortlessly, surpassing the realms of what seems possible by layering the narrative journey with an endless wealth of social commentary. Through plot points that are accessible and easy to digest, the reality of Chinese American immigrants shines, lashed with the need for continued intimacy with age, struggles when coming out and the white person’s need to never pronounce a name the same way twice. Nothing is compromised for the sake of something else, each branch of conversation enriched in nuance while coexisting with the weight of infinite worlds.
As for its visual command — the effects are near indescribable. Not comparable to anything previously on the big screen, Daniels push the limits of ‘everything and the kitchen sink’ to new heights while forging a distinctive directorial voice all their own. Multiple watches are recommended to fully digest the smallest of details, the overarching soundtrack perfectly straddling the line between uplifting Americana and the melancholic beauty of Asian cinema. While Michelle Yeoh gives the performance she’s always been destined to, the film is arguably in the hands of Stephanie Hsu, infusing humour, sass, and intellect into a visceral visualisation of depression.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is more than merely a film — it’s an experience. Ripping through the emotional capability of audiences while altering their perspectives of what could be, there’s never been a more exquisitely crafted reminder that nothing really matters. In the midst of the cinematic wealth boiled into a well-deserved runtime, viewers will feel small, stupid, and in absolute euphoria.
STARS: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanis Hsu, Jamie Lee Curtis
RUNTIME: 140 mins