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In 2022, the idea of the multiverse seems like a high concept of days gone. Audiences have quickly become obsessed with cinematic universes and connective tissue linking all of their favourite films and TV shows. This is most evident with the ever popular Marvel Cinematic Universe and as it has continued to grow over the past fourteen years, the creatives at the helm have begun to toy with the idea of the multiverse. Some audiences, however, haven’t found this to be nearly as exciting as it should be.
Enter Daniels (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) and their incredible, fresh take on the multiverse with Everything Everywhere All at Once. Led by Michelle Yeoh, the film tells the story of Evelyn Wang as she and her family become swept up in an insane adventure, connecting to an array of different universes made up of the different lives she could have led. Following the success of their 2016 absurdity, Swiss Army Man, Kwan and Scheinert have teamed up for yet another maximalist adventure that proves you can achieve the impossible.
Opening with a remarkable one-take, of sorts, the film instantly grabs the audience’s attention with both its visual style and its immediacy. Bombarding the audience with an onslaught of dialogue, both in English and Mandarin/Cantonese, the characters of Evelyn, husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) and daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) are quickly introduced. Establishing their immediate relationships with each other, the audience is given a glimpse at the current state of the family’s livelihood, as they face the possibility of an audit from the International Revenue Service. At a near breakneck pace however, the adventure soon begins as the insanity ensues.
What Kwan and Scheinert have crafted with Everything Everywhere All at Once is a wholly unique experience. In an age of cinema screens being dominated by existing properties, it is a relief to see something as original as this film. However, there is so much more to it than just originality. The film making on display from both cast and crew is stellar throughout the entire run time. At the heart of the film is Michelle Yeoh, who acts as the audience’s surrogate through which both parties discover and learn the inner workings of this bizarre multiverse. From beautiful moments of emotion to incredible stunt work, Yeoh proves with this film that she still has plenty of talent to share with the world.
Next to Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu shines in the role of Joy. Without detailing too much about this character, they play a large part in the film’s overarching story and bring a lot of emotion to the mother/daughter relationship that’s explored. As well as Hsu, Ke Huy Quan is incredible in his return to the big screen. Twenty years since his last appearance on screen, Quan brings that quintessential charm that audiences know and love. Not only that, but he also delivers big in the stunt department, having one of the most exciting action set pieces of recent memory. The entire supporting cast are also stellar; from the ever committed Jamie Lee Curtis as Deirdre the auditor, right through to Andy and Brian Le, along with the whole Martial Club team who continue to amaze with their incredible stunt work.
As well as the outstanding cast, the crew also shines bright. Kwan, Scheinert and cinematographer Larkin Seiple bring a fascinating look to the film. While it begins with gorgeously lit scenes, the team slowly transitions into some jaw dropping moments with the films framing and lighting, along with alternating aspect ratios. While this can sometimes come off as gimmicky, it’s a decision that lends itself to the style of the film and actually helps differentiate moments from one another when jumping from universe to universe. This is also made possible by the great production design and costuming team, who come up with some truly outlandish ideas for the different universes.
This all culminates in a tone similar to the stories of Douglas Adams, yet unlike anything audiences have seen before. Without getting lost in itself, the film is expertly crafted and always stays true to its core message of love, family and being able to accept ourselves and each other; especially when no one knows what is going on. Taking a rather absurd concept and portraying it in a precise manner, Everything Everywhere All at Once remains a heartfelt story throughout and carries a charm to it that audiences will be sure to cling to, as long as they aren’t frightened by the bizarre nature of the whole thing.
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