Director: The Daniels | 2h 19mins | Action, Adventure
An aging Chinese immigrant becomes embroiled in an adventure exploring the multiverse. In order to stop an unknown evil she must connect with other universes and the different lives she’s could have lead.
When you think ‘multiverse’ the mind jumps to the recent blockbuster endeavours by Marvel as they use the term freely to interject fan service into their films. When you think ‘multiverse’ by The Daniels, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Schienert who directed the bonkers but brilliant Swiss Army Man (2016), the mind wonders just how wild and inventive the directors can get with such a vast concept. Luckily for us, Everything Everywhere All At Once delivers as promised – a fun and barbaric shot of originality that asks big questions even in its craziest moments.
The story revolves around small business owner Evelyn Yang (Michelle Yeoh) trying to keep her business afloat until she’s interrupted by an alternate version of her husband, who opens her mind up to the possibilities of the Multiverse as well as the task of saving it. The film is very good at sticking to its own rules even down to the minute details – with everything feeling somehow disjointed and random while always feeling connected. That’s down to a script that, on the surface seems chaotic, but has been procedurally stitched into the fabric of the film’s world.
The Daniels compliment every twist, turn and timeline jump with high-octane direction. Aside from odd moments of reflection – as well as a chaptered structure to break things down – the film is on a constant high as Evelyn barrels through multiple realities without really giving you any room to breathe. The execution of such a frantic pace is reminiscent of Safdie’s Uncut Gems (although not quite as anxiety inducing), a tone only achieved by director’s with distinct vision as well as fantastic editing working hard to make it cohesive.
Often when films have a scope so vast that they can literally be defined as everything, it’s incredibly important to have a ‘something’, or someone, that brings it delicately back to Earth. It’s something that the modern Superhero film has struggled with as they grow and grow in scale but for Evelyn, her fractured relationships are in the forefront – a loveless marriage and a disconnected daughter are really what Everything Everywhere All At Once is about, making the humanity tear through the madness wonderfully.
Eventually, as the movie sifts through the fears of existentialism, it begins to find its core between Mother and Daughter. Evelyn is tasked with stopping a powerful multiverse hopper named Jobu Tupaki who takes the form of Evelyn’s daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu). In these wacky moments of glitter violence and googly eyes, the film finds connection not just between Mother and Daughter, but between two people so disconnected from their lives and each other that they end up finding solace in the shared experience.
This film is truly unique, an explosive journey that is able to create so much joy and laughter even as you stare into the deep dark abyss of life’s emptiness (or cream cheese bagel). The concept draws you in, but what keeps you hooked is the film’s wonderful emotional core at the centre of all the chaos.