Everything Everywhere All at Once Review

There are not many things in life that are guaranteed, with the exception of death and tax rates, and perhaps the never-ending duty that is washing the laundry. At the very least, this is the situation that the protagonists in the new film “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, also popularly known as the Daniels, find themselves in at the beginning. That is, until they take a journey that is emotional, intellectual, and profoundly odd via the looking glass into in the multiverse, and along the way, they learn knowledge about the metaphysical world.


In this ode to the genre film, Michelle Yeoh shines as Evelyn Wang, the tired owner of a laundry who is being audited by the Internal Revenue Service. Our first glimpse of her is of her and her family—husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), daughter Joy, – [Stephanie Hsu]. A wall mirror in their living room reflects their happy expressions. Evelyn’s grin fades as the camera moves through the mirror and focuses on her sitting at a table covered with business invoices. She’s attempting to meet with an auditor and host a Chinese New Year celebration that will satisfy her picky father Gong Gong, who is in town for the holiday (James Hong, wiley as ever).
Evelyn has a lot on her plate with her father’s coming as well as the tax audit, plus her depressed daughter Joy wants to invite her boyfriend Becky (Tallie Medel) to the gathering and her partner wants to have a serious chat about their relationship. Waymond visits Evelyn according to what he terms the Alpha Verse just as she’s beginning to feel burdened by all that’s occurring. In this world, people may “verse leap,” and an evil force of disaster known as Jobu Tupaki threatens all universes. All of Evelyn’s preconceived notions about her life, her failings, and her affection for her family are soon challenged as she is pushed into a universe-hopping journey.
The majority of the film takes place at an IRS data center kind of office building in the Simi Valley, where Evelyn fights against IRS agent Diedre (Jamie Lee Curtis, clearly having a blast), a group of security guards, and maybe everyone she’s ever known. Jason Kisvarday’s production design creates an unending maze of cubicles where everything from a paper trimmer’s blade to an auditor of the calendar year award in the form of a butt plug may be used as a weapon in the fight to preserve the cosmos.

Overall, Evelyn’s inner development is propelled by the frantic conversation and the several worlds that Paul Rogers, the editor, weaves together at breakneck speed. Each world is linked together by a series of match cuts, and the film’s core comedy is highlighted by a series of humorous cuts. The battle scenes, staged by Andy and Brian Le, have a seemingly effortless elegance to them, smartly filmed by cinematographer –  Larkin Seiple in wide angles enabling complete bodies to fill the screen.


Yeoh is the center of the picture, given a part that highlights her full range of abilities, from her great martial artistic abilities to her outstanding comedy timing and delivery to her ability to mine unfathomable levels of complex human feeling sometimes simply from a look or a reply. She is a cinematic star and this is a movie that understands it. Watching her shine so brilliantly and obviously having a fun brought a tear to my eye a number of times.
Joy, Evelyn and Waymond’s daughter, turns out to be the pivotal character as the couple’s relationship goes through peaks and valleys throughout other realities. Joy, played by Stephanie Hsu in a career-defining performance, is a metaphor for the widening gap between the generations. Evelyn’s broken bond with her grandpa and the unfulfilled potential of the American dream are burdens that Joy bears alone. Her mother found her daughter’s sexuality as strange as the nation itself when they first met. All that Eveyln gave up for her to have better opportunities made her aimlessness all the more of a letdown. The revolt caused by this pressure is so large that it reaches beyond universes.


The Daniels argue that the unconditional love that has been handed down through the centuries may help fill the emptiness that results from the accumulation of trauma experienced by successive generations. Although order might seem elusive and meaning in life can be found only briefly, it is precisely these times that we should strive to enjoy.

Rating: 4/5

Now running in Theatres