‘Everything’ delivers a completely bonkers original experience, unlike anything you’re likely to have seen recently. A Silly, Serious, and Spectacular Sci-fi adventure
‘Everything Everywhere all at Once’ comes to us from Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan (collectively known as ‘The Daniels’) and stars Hong Kong/Hollywood legend Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn, a woman in crisis. Her family laundry business is failing, her father doesn’t respect her and is waiting for her to fail. Unknown to her, her husband has filed for divorce. She also has a very strained relationship with her daughter. Evelyn is strangely oblivious to these factors and soldiers on regardless, trying to hold things together. During her sparce quiet moments, her mind drifts as she fantasizes about a very different life. A simple visit to the IRS office to file tax returns see her whole life change in one moment.
Every now and again, a film arrives with a certain level of hype and critical acclaim that makes me think the weight of expectation must feel suffocating. Can any film deliver on that level of hype? I went in fully expecting to be impressed but to say I was almost left speechless by what i was watching would be an understatement. ‘The Daniels’ have created a genre blending masterpiece which manages to deal with serious issues while somehow not taking itself too seriously at all.
The directors’ background in music videos is apparent throughout the film as the frenetic energy and colours bleed through every scene. They made their feature film directorial debut in 2016 with the well-received ‘Swiss Army Men‘ which starred Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. This is only their second feature and to say they delivered in spades like seasoned pros wouldn’t be an exaggeration.
The movie is silly in places and downright wacky in others. There will be some who don’t appreciate some of the humour and those who don’t like reading subtitles in films (like myself). While this is an English language film, the lead being Chinese American means their conversations often casually drift between English and Chinese, as those of dual heritage regularly do. It’s a shame that there are some who will give this film a miss because it does have a female Chinese lead rather than one of their more familiar Hollywood faces, despite the fact Michelle is a world known and celebrated star in her own right.
Michelle delivers an incredible multi layered performance and easily carries this film through its comical madness as well as its more serious moments. Her co-stars are all fantastic and create a entertaining ensemble. From her goofy husband Waymond Wang (Ke Huy Quan -last seen as the boy ‘Short Stop’ in Indiana Jones) to her troubled daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu), her father Gong Gong (James Hong) and ultra-efficient IRS agent Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis). Different versions of them all feature across the multiverses, and all add fascinating layers to the story.
At its core, ‘Everything’ is a simple, familiar story about ‘what if’, wondering what could have been. Evelyn finds herself questioning her life choices as she feels unfulfilled. She is so wrapped up in what she may have missed out on that she is oblivious to the fact that her actual family life is falling apart. She dreams of greener grass, a different existence where she is successful and incredibly gets the opportunity to experience some of those other realities.
She discovers the existence of the multiverse and it’s explained to her that every decision we make in our lives spawns a different path/universe/reality. This gives Evelyn the opportunity to see what could have been and gets a better understanding of her choices.
‘Everything Everywhere all at Once’ managed to make me laugh out loud more than once, shake my head at others and feel real empathy towards the plight of the characters. It had some familiar themes and some scenes you may not believe you are watching in a mainstream release! They probably won’t have got away with it had they not kept the story so tightly wrapped around the fate of Evelyn’s family rather than an ‘end of world’ threat.
There is a ‘sliding doors’ vibe to proceedings as well as a very strong ‘The Matrix’ influence, from Evelyn being ‘The One’ down to the team of techs co ordinating the universe jumps from the ‘Alpha Universe’ in their own control centre (a camper van!). It obviously doesn’t have the budget of a film like ‘The Matrix’ but the movie benefits from that-all the focus is on the ludicrous onscreen proceedings!
‘Everything Everywhere’ is an example of what happens if you give young Indie directors free rein on the mainstream stage. We get a glimpse into their comically disturbed minds and what we find is an experience you are unlikely to forget for a long time. This is easily my favourite original film of 2022 so far (Batman can’t really be classed as original!).
This is a film that deals with some serious issues in the most fun, ridiculous over the top manner. It’s great to see a sci-fi movie that isn’t a sequel or a superhero movie from one of the larger studios. If you are craving something original and are willing to dive into a true ‘multiverse of madness’, do not miss this film!
Everything Everywhere all at Once is in UK cinemas now