Everything, Everywhere, All At Once (2022) Movie Review

Director: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Writers: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Stars: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Jamie Lee Curtis

Were there to be a central movie for 2022, a film that proved the thesis of post-covid pressures personified in a screen experience, I’d reckon that Everything, Everywhere, All At Once would be the film.

Here we have a movie designed to break genre into a million tiny pieces and craft a narrative that feels uniquely bonkers, almost satirical in its concepts of multiverse theories, as it aims to tell a very intimate story about capitalistic pressures compounding on deeply personal relationships.

Michelle Yeoh has long been an immaculate presence in cinema, but here she gets perhaps her most human role—which is a hilarious statement to anyone who has seen the film considering she spends 5% of it with hot dog fingers and another 5% attempting to hit bad guys with sex objects. To call EEAO an ambitious film is an undersell.

Never has a film been more audacious, more aspiring to crash into the heights of Hollywood blockbuster cinema and merge them fluidly with the intimate character relationships of the most poignant indie films. In a way, it shows the futility of Hollywood’s marketing culture trying to carefully select the audience that would appreciate such films.

EEO dismisses the notion that anyone would be put off by its central premise because the heart of its story is so personal and relatable. To say it is successful in this endeavor is also an undersell. There are lines within the film that virtually shouted the thesis of life to me, and scenes that shattered my heart with their profound understanding of human empathy. The more I consider Yeoh’s performance the more I am in awe of it.

Through her lens, we are instantaneously seated in a perspective we understand. In many ways, she begins the film as an overwhelmed and therefore understandably jaded mother. To throw that person into the flames of a kung-fu film about multiversal plights against humanity caused by universal neglect of her daughter speaks to the masses of people who no doubt watch EEAO ready to write it off.

Yet because we trust the perspective of the character, we’re willing to hear her out. Yeoh must work as the film’s translator in many respects. She must balance the bizarre world-building with only enough judgment passed to understand her perspective but never too much to write it off. What builds is the most satisfying and hilarious superhero story ever told about a woman who owns a laundromat.

Everything, Everywhere, All At Once deftly defies the laws of pacing. Its edit is so precise and complex that it is able to feel comfortable as both a marathon and a sprint. Much like Daniel’s previous film, Swiss Army Man, the work here demands that the audience watches with an open mind. In some ways, this feels like a heavy task, but in a cinema age where, for example, Ant-Man is traveling to a quantum realm to face off against the clone of a man who has sat for a thousand years at the end of time—a film destined for multi-millions of dollars—it feels a small price to pay to allow the Daniels the space to tell their unique and sprawling tale.

There aren’t enough words to type my appreciation for the other performances in the film, namely Ke Huy Quan who works alongside Yeoh with an astonishing breadth of the heart. The plot can be heady, and it can get in its own way at times with frustrating little nitpicks that gnaws at its more emotional truths.

But never has there been a film that shouts quite as loud as this one: ‘We are here!’ Everything, Everywhere, All At Once feels like a cry from a tired nation, a final plea to assert that life can still mean something even if it means nothing. 9.3/10 

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