Everything, Everywhere, All at Once (2022)
Film review #582
Director: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
SYNOPSIS: Evelyn is an overworked laundromat owner who is preparing for her Father’s visit, an audit by the IRS, among everything else. She is suddenly forced into a battle across the multiverse to save every reality from being destroyed by a nihilistic entity who just so happens to be her daughter…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Everything, Everywhere, All at Once is a 2002 sci-fi film. The film centres around Evelyn, a laundromat owner who is being audited by the IRS, amongst a host of family issues as well. Evelyn is suddenly pulled into a battle to save the multiverse, and must tap into the possibilities of the different versions of herself to stop an evil entity from destroying everything. Operating on a number of different levels and perspectives, the film is inherently chaotic, and it is designed to be, but has specific themes and relationships that ground the film and provide an entryway into the story. Perhaps a few of these can be boiled down into very typical relationships and problems, but maybe that’s what makes them relatable and meaningful; I think your mileage may vary. Nevertheless, the film has a quick pace and packs a lot into it’s two and half hour runtime. Being a film about the infinite possibilities of existence and jumping between different realities, it would be quite easily to leave a viewer confused, or have the film get bogged down in technical jargon and exposition: fortunately, the film manages to keep its pacing and energy while setting itself up for the viewer, and switching around the different realities and revealing things in a piecemeal fashion help keep the film going.
In terms of characters, Evelyn as a role was made for Michelle Yeoh: it showcases her acting talent across all the different genres and roles she has done over the years. she takes on all the different roles she has to play effortlessly, while also retaining the everyday core of her character that is just trying to manage a business and her family. The rest of the cast too are solid in their roles that are uniquely carved out for them, and are a bit of stability in contrast to Evelyn’s constant flux.
Credit should be given to the writing of the film that balances the right amount of entertainment, drama, action, and emotional moments that are switched between to avoid the film becoming too bogged down in any particular details. The film makes it simple enough to go along for the ride, but also provides some powerful emotional moments that hit when you least expect. The film does wobble a bit near the end, where I don’t think it sets up the climax of the film as such, because the film has had so much energy and motion that you don’t realise that this is where everything is coming to a head, and not just another step somewhere else. The philosophical clash between a humanist existentialism and a nihilistic meaninglessness has some weight to it at the end, but it’s not something explored throughout the film so it feels like you’re getting a pay off from everything you experienced. Part of that is intentional: that out of all the different possibilities and realities, what matters is the seemingly drab one that you inhabit, and because everything is valid (in other universes), then no single one is more meaningful than the other. As mentioned, some of the themes and characters are boiled down to rather simple positions or outlooks by the film’s end, but these are all minor gripes about a film that does so well with so many things, and turns in solid performances from the cast, as well as navigating a host of different themes: keeping things interesting for casual movie-goers, while also not being afraid to delve deeper into heavier subjects when necessary. Overall, Everything, Everywhere, All at Once is a high energy mix of films that nevertheless relies on a careful arrangement of it’s parts so it doesn’t fall into a giant mess. Being able to sustain interest and attention across the runtime thanks to solid performances, fun action scenes, and emotional moments that pull you back in. A few missed beats around pacing and oversimplifying certain positions don’t upset the overall impact of a film that both opens itself to the infinite possibilities of existence, while still making the here and now matter.