Last month, in my article about Hollywood and how laziness was ruining cinema, I talked about my disappointment towards an industry that often chose easy solutions instead of elevating the art. I criticised a plethora of recent films but ultimately concluded that one should not lose faith in Hollywood, and that films like Everything Everywhere All At Once deserved our attention. Now that I’ve watched it, I can effectively say I was right, and that we have already one of the best films of the year in front of us!
Summarising Everything Everywhere All At Once is no easy task, and I wouldn’t want to spoil anything. To cut a long story short, we follow Evelyn Quan Wang (Michelle Yeoh), a laundromat owner desperately trying to have a decent life and trying to prove to others she’s successful. She’s married to Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) who’s fallen out of love with her, and their daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) feels sidelined in her mother’s quest for approval. One day, during an IRS audit led by Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis), Evelyn’s life is turned upside down as she learns she must save the multiverse from the hands of the evil Jobu Tupaki using her multiple alternative personalities across said multiverse.
The multiverse has become a somehow fashionable trend in movies, especially the superhero genre. Films like Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Spider-Man: No Way Home have all explored parallel world and different dimensions to serve a bigger storyline. And while Spider Verse succeeded, delivering a beautiful story that received an Academy Award, the others two have been criticised for their lack of creativity and over reliance on fan service. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, that came out in May, was a particularly bad example of how not the use the concept of the multiverse: instead of exploring vast new realities far from the one we know, audiences were transported to a slightly more advanced world where people cross the street on green instead of red and where food is free (breathtaking stuff, I know). Everything Everywhere All At Once is the complete opposite: a little bundle of joy and creativity that truly showcases what can be done with the multiverse, especially from an emotional perspective that was too absent in other projects. Some of the film’s decision toward the multiverse and writing genuinely blew my mind. The worlds we explore as an audience are fascinating, utterly crazy but ultimately delightful, and the way the story brings them together feels far more natural than the MCU’s attempts. Marvel should definitely look at the film and think “Where did we go wrong? How did an indie film do better than a multi-million dollar project?”.
Don’t walk, run to see Everything Everywhere All At Once while it is still in cinemas
Elie Breton des Loÿs
Much of the credits must go to the ‘Daniels’ (the name given to the film’s two directors, Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) who have delivered a near-perfect film that beautifully. Parodying the likes of Ratatouille or In The Mood for Love, they use existing work to create their own story in a way that never feels like cheap appropriation. Every scene is directed so well, whether it’s the quieter, emotional moments that will break your heart or the amazing action scenes that bring you to the edge of the seat. Considering the scope and ambition of the film, it is impressive to see young directors master the art so effortlessly. The film, that might seem like a fun action movie at first, really pushes audience to reconsider their reality and lives by asking difficult questions: What if there was a universe where you were far more successful? What if your life could be far better had you not interacted with a certain person or made a certain decision? All those questions punctuate the film, and lead to some very touching and necessary scenes that explore the themes nihilism, existentialism, and overall what it means to be Chinese-American in today’s society.
It must be acknowledged that the film probably wouldn’t be as good without its wonderful cast. Ke Huy Quan, who most people know for his roles in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies, is an incredibly touching as a husband who wants to feel acknowledged and loved. Stephanie Hsu, who is asked to do some of the most difficult scenes, is simply breathtaking and incredibly touching whenever she’s on screen. Even Jamie Lee Curtis secondary role as a tax inspector will surprise you and even bring you to tears. However, the most praise must undoubtedly go to Michelle Yeoh, the absolute powerhouse who immediately takes this film from amazing to classic cult. Her performance as Evelyn (and her multiple alternative personas) is phenomenal. You really feel for this character who desperately tries to find validation in her family and her community, only to find herself in a situation far greater than she could have ever imagined. Recently, while being interviewed by QG about her career, Yeoh broke down in tears when discussing Everything Everywhere All At Once, stating that she had been hoping for a role like this for years, and that she was proud to finally showcase her range. It was hard to not be touched by Yeoh’s heartfelt moment, and to not think about all the wonderful actors and actresses who haven’t been given the opportunity to shine because they do not fit the white lead Hollywood usually relies on. At a time where America is utterly divided, and AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) hate is on the rise, it is refreshing to see an Asian-led film that pushes the boundaries of representation on screen. Let’s hope next year’s Academy Award will recognise this wonderful achievement and Yeoh’s raw talent accordingly. In the meantime, I cannot wait for American Born Chinese, an upcoming Disney + show in which both Hsu and Yeoh will reunite!
Don’t walk, run to see Everything Everywhere All At Once while it is still in cinemas. Everyone I know who has watched it has loved it, and it is no surprise it has become A24’s biggest worldwide success. It’s a beautiful, funny and totally epic story that showcases why indie cinema deserves our love and attention. You will not regret it!