“Everything Everywhere All At Once” Is Beautiful, Heartwarming, Multiversal Chaos

It seems like everyone’s making a multiverse picture these days. Spider-Man: No Way Home tore up the box office with its tale of a trifecta of spider-gents beset by universe-spanning baddies. Soon we’ll have Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness, sure to be a wonderful multiverse hopping ride. The Flash will bring a big-screen return to Michael Keaton’s iconic turn as The Bat. Nonetheless, we already have the best multiverse film of our era in Everything Everywhere All At Once, the emotional and mind-bending stunner from directing duo Daniels.

Michelle Yeoh plays Evelyn Wang, a Chinese American woman trying to keep her life together against a tide of pressures. She exhibits real discomfort with the choices and sexual orientation of her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu), especially when Evelyn’s father Gong Gong (James Hong) is about to arrive (and meet Joy’s girlfriend). Evelyn also faces tax issues, compounded by the stern critical eye of IRS inspector Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis) and the good natured incompetance of her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). All these real issues are compounded, of course, when an alternate reality version of Waymond arrives to tell her that a multiversal threat is coming. Evelyn must embrace and connect with the various multiversal Evelyns, each having become a different version of her through a variety of choices and circumstances, and fight this oncoming menace.

Everything Everywhere All At Once is one of the most unique, clever, mind-bending movies in recent memory. Evelyn’s journey—a reflection of her inability to embrace change and what ‘could have been’ that’s mirrored in her daughter’s absolute alienation—is brilliantly manifested through a narrative that bends our rules for what narratives are (and can be). Through effortless movement through increasingly absurdist Evelyns (and the worlds they inhabit), she grows, learns, and finds warmth that she never learned to inhabit before. It’s a clever, mile-a-minute film that somehow balances action, comedy, extreme fantasy, and heart in the most unusual narrative we’ve seen in some time.

Yeoh is exceptional, balancing the various Evelyns flawlessly, while Ke Huy Quan is the film’s heart. He’s hilarious, but lands the action and emotional elements of his character with charisma and aplomb. Stephanie Hsu is also worth noting for her wonderful and complex outing as Joy Wang, aka multiversal conqueror Jobu Tupaki. Her portrayal of the former sports nuance, emotional, and pain, while the latter is portrayed with a complexity and monomaniacal fervor that stems, oddly, from the same source.

On a technical level, the film lands. The editing alone (by Paul Rogers) is one to beat come next year’s Academy Awards, a stunning achievement that pairs well with Larkin Seiple’s thoughtful cinematography and Jason Kisvarday’s visionary production design. The worldbuilding is complex, the highly visual journey through a surreal landscape is exceptional, and it’s grounded in a smartly written script that infuses the whole with emotion befitting a film that wants you to feel and not just be bombarded with imagery. (And don’t get me wrong, you are bombarded with imagery… it’s just pleasant and loaded with meaning).

The biggest issue with the film is that the film’s final third, suffering an already long narrative, starts to bend under its thematic and intellectual weight. The moral development, some of the conversations, and the scenes begin to feel a little long, a bit repetitive, and slowed down considerably as it attempts to reign in a surreal plot and redirect it into the film’s real-world core. These issues persist throughout the third act, which could be honed into a tighter finale. At the same time, it’s still a strong and emotionally resonant outing (and the fact that they could reign in the chaos at all is nonetheless impressive).

Everything Everywhere All At Once is a marvel. It’s a loosely organized, life-giving chaos. It’s charming, funny, action-filled, surreal, and full of heart. Its universal yet specific to the cultures it reflects. Its a gorgeous and precise treatment of a story so bizarre yet so grounded it’s hard to imagine we’ll see another like it (let alone one that lands so successfully). Mainly, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s already exciting to see what weird brilliant madness the Daniels will do next.

Everything Everywhere All At Once premieres in theaters tomorrow, March 25th, 2022.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffewing/2022/03/24/review-everything-everywhere-all-at-once-is-beautiful-heartwarming-multiversal-chaos/