Everything Everywhere All at Once Review: Michelle Yeoh's film embraces chaotic 'multiverse' of wildest dreams
Michelle Yeoh plays Evelyn Quan Wang, a frustrated laundromat owner suffering an existential crisis of the Asian order, in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Read Pinkvilla's review below.
Name: Everything Everywhere All at Once
Rating: 4 / 5
Everything Everywhere All at Once Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, James Hong, Jamie Lee Curtis
Everything Everywhere All at Once Directors: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert aka Daniels
Giving existential crisis the ultimate "Daniels" treatment are absurdist enthusiasts Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert with Everything Everywhere All at Once! In what felt like a "This Is Your Life" flick of Michelle Yeoh's extraordinary acting arsenal, the comedy-drama film hits fever pitch right from the word go. However, is the extreme sensory overload a treat or too much to handle for the new age audience, who gets more heedless with experimental content overdrive? Let's find out!
In Everything Everywhere All at Once, Evelyn Quan Wang (Michelle Yeoh) is a frustrated laundromat owner, who's riddled with fulfilling her demanding father Gong Gong's (James Hong) every need while trying to bury her growing resentment towards her own daughter Joy Wang's (Stephanie Hsu) rebellious decisions, including dating a girl, Becky Sregor (Tallie Medel). The two share the typical Asian mother-daughter duo dynamics, which eventually boils over like how all family dramas do. Moreover, Evelyn's husband Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan) is desperately trying to get his busy wife's attention with divorce in mind. If the familial issues weren't enough, piling more tip of the iceberg stress onto Evelyn's already burdened life is the impending IRS audit, which isn't an easy road given her moderate English-speaking skills, with Mandarin and Cantonese mixed through and through.
During a particular grilling session with IRS inspector Deirdre Beaubeirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis) over their miserable attempt at dodging high taxes, Waymond has his body taken over by his alternative version from a parallel universe, who enlists a clueless Evelyn's aide to prevent a powerful, mysterious being named Jobu Tupaki from complete destruction of the multiverse. For this, Evelyn is required to swiftly learn how to "verse jump" to different versions of her timeline, one of whom was the pathbreaking scientist behind exploring the multiverse, which current Evelyn now has to avenge.
Through some hilarious "verse jumps," Evelyn comes across multiple timelines where she's successful, albeit not married to Waymond. From a popular Hong Kong action star to a skilled chef and a talented opera singer - even a rock and a piñata at some point - Evelyn goes through an extreme range of emotions as she tiptoes between holding on and letting go.
When it comes to performances in Everything Everywhere All at Once, Michelle Yeoh delivers a knockout performance as the veteran actress showcases impeccable acting range; oscillating between Evelyn's grave exhaustion and turbulent mind to embracing her hidden "chaotic mess" personality, which comes bursting through with every wrecked multiverse adventure faced. Yeoh masterfully infuses herself with acute vulnerability in Evelyn's different versions who are bombastically different yet similar. Moreover, Michelle's performance gains more credence as she gets to play off of the talented supporting cast.
Making his acting comeback with Everything Everywhere All at Once, Ke Huy Quan instils playful elegance in Waymond Wang, using kindness as the best acting tool to garner anyone's sympathetic attention. Together, Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan are a charming delight to watch on the big screen, especially in the melancholic, romantic sequences they share in Hong Kong. Equally stellar is Stephanie Hsu as Joy Wang as she exquisitely delivers the conflicting emotions of a downtrodden teenager having to deal with her distant Asian mom. While the legendary James Hong is a welcome addition as Gong Gong, Jamie Lee Curtis is outrageously hysterical with her intriguing act.
Daniels tackle the multiverse in Everything Everywhere All at Once with an emotional complexity we wished to have seen in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Magic. For one half, the movie's video game approach will be headache-inducing as there are not-so-subtle flaws spruced, even rushed. However, for the other half (including this reviewer!), in between unearthing the topsy-turvy, technical exploration in the movie through a duration of 140 minutes, it's the dominant narrative of "family over everything else" that makes way for a satisfying ending. Especially when Jobu Tupaki's end goal - the mystery behind who Jobu Tupaki isn't a twist to fret over because the film itself doesn't do so - is revealed, connected heavily to Evelyn, herself.
"Nothing matters" might be the magnanimous motto behind Everything Everywhere All at Once's simplistic yet curiosity-driven storyline, but it's the complete opposite memo for cinematographer Larkin Seiple and editor Paul Rogers, who expertly create magic on screen out of Daniels' wildest dreams, times infinity. Equally captivating is Son Lux's eccentric score that helps intensify already heightened tensions looming over the characters at every time stop. The movie's technical prowess particularly sucker punches you in the delectable action sequences that steep more towards physical comedy (a fanny pack destroys in its wake multiple security guards and IRS trophies are jammed into not-so-comfortable body parts!) than experimental.
In conclusion, Everything Everywhere All at Once is "everything," "everywhere," "all at once," and then some...