Review: “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Arts & Entertainment

Anthony Pantalone, Staff

Writing about “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is not easy. I write this openly and honestly when I say that words make it difficult to describe this film. Words make it difficult to even describe the experience of watching it in a theater. I laughed a lot. I cried a lot. I audibly said “What?” a lot. Therefore, the only word that comes to mind when thinking about the latest cinematic effort by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert is ‘triumph.’ Between its acting, directing, editing and, most of all, its screenplay, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” represents a creative triumph on all fronts. In the same way that the Daniels wrote this screenplay as a response to the worsening postmodern state of the world after 2016, its hopefulness and meta-modernism take a stand against nihilism. The important thing to know about this movie though is that nothing can prepare you for the experience of watching it. Whereas I would usually provide a brief plot summary, it genuinely would benefit the viewer to know less going in. I can’t recommend it enough. If there is one movie you watch this year, it should be “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

A24 Studios

Utilizing the Potential of your Cast

One thing this film does extremely well is utilize its cast to the utmost potential of each actor’s star caliber. Michelle Yeoh (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” “Shang-Chi”) leads the film as Evelyn Wang—a role that is both a physical and emotional powerhouse. With an extensive background in Hong Kong kung fu movies, this role allows Yeoh to show off her physical strengths in fight choreography while also producing the dramatic and comedic performance of a lifetime. Alongside Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan especially shines as her husband Waymond Wang. Quan returns to acting in an emotional tour de force performance after famed childhood roles in both “The Goonies” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” Quan noted he never actually would have returned to working in front of a camera if not for the cultural milestone of “Crazy Rich Asians” in 2018 for Asian actors in prominent leading roles. His performance has easily been my favorite of 2022 so far and likely one of my favorite performances of the past few years. Stephanie Hsu also delivers a great performance that is versatile and threatening while also incredibly heart-breaking. Finally, it’s important to note Jamie Lee Curtis (“A Fish Called Wanda” “Freaky Friday”) who truly embraces her talents as a comedic actor in this film.

A24 Studios

Everything on a Bagel: Insane Absurdism Works

The Daniels overcome issues at the heart of many movies that revel in absurdism or use weird sci-fi concepts like a multiverse by anchoring a strong emotional core to all this insanity. There is a bagel that has quite literally all of existence on it. There is a racoon named “Racacoonie” who controls a chef like the rat in “Ratatouille.” There are scenes where all human beings have hot dogs for fingers. There is also a scene where two rocks talk only through subtitles. But the emotional core of the movie is so well written and weaved throughout every aspect of the story that this scene ended up making me cry. This film goes to crazy places, yet it always stays grounded in the humanity of its characters. The main existential struggles and family trauma of the protagonist always remain at the root of the story’s events despite the absurdism.

Blending Genre

Everything Everywhere All at Once” is especially skillful at blending genres in a way that is not usually executed well in other films. It’s science fiction. It’s a dark comedy. At moments, its fight choreography makes it feel like a kung fu film. At times, it is an emotionally crushing drama. On a basic level, it’s a slice of life movie about doing your taxes. The Daniels in one scene even attempt to pay homage to the moody tension-filled atmosphere of Wong Kar-wai’s romantic masterpiece “In the Mood for Love.” The pure creativity of its screenplay is on display throughout the use of different genres, yet this blend of genre never feels disjointed or works to confuse the audience. Instead, the film embraces a metamodern tapestry of genres to tell a grand narrative about existential anguish, the effects of trauma, and healing.

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