Written by Jack Ransom
Easily the most critically praised and anticipated of A24’s produced features, as well as the highest rated picture of this year so far. Everything, Everywhere All at Once sees an aging Chinese immigrant (Michelle Yeoh) get swept up in an insane adventure, where she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led.
There have been a few critically highly regarded films recently that didn’t consistently click with me throughout (most notably Drive My Car & The Worst Person in the World), despite appreciating them from a technical and performance perspective. However, with Everything, Everywhere All at Once there was not only masterful technical prowess and fantastic performances, but a bucket load of personality, heart and boundless creativity.
Divided into three chapters (working as each section of the film’s title), the film sucks you into its 2 hour 19 minute whirlwind of a narrative, that balances the shotgun blast riveting pacing of the chaotic multiverse shenanigans with slower moments of family drama and genuinely emotionally investing character arcs and revelations. The world building is fascinating and is extremely efficient in keeping the viewer locked into what is happening as the alternate realities begin to clash and pile on top of one another. This is consistently anchored by the cracked, yet beating heart of the family and the looping backdrop of their struggling laundromat (which also acts as a limbo/purgatory-esque pit stop).
Verse-Jumping is a recipe for unlimited potential and heaps of absurdist comedy. The sausage finger universe being the peak of this (with a hysterical riff on 2001: A Space Odyssey). Before hopping into/borrowing another version of yourself, you have to complete a specific task. This can range from merely wearing shoes on the opposite feet all the way to inserting a certain object where the sun doesn’t shine. The presentation of this is staggeringly good. Relentlessly barraging, pounding and seamlessly transitioning between Evelyn’s (Yeoh) multiple lives with ease and constantly keeping the experience fresh and energetic.
The action is constantly entertaining and takes inspiration from many sub-genres: martial arts, Matrix-esque bullet time, raw longer take John Wick style hand to hand brawls and fantastical Wuxia inspiration. Waymond’s (Ke Huy Quan) fanny pack beatdown, Jobu Topaki’s (Stephanie Hsu) first true display of power reveal and the power of positivity slowed down sequence all standout instantly. The CGI implementation looks great, practical effects and stunt work are riotously at the forefront, bolstered by a staggering amount of colours, filters and various stylisations for the multiple verses.
Michelle Yeoh is fantastic here and she makes Evelyn’s frequently embittered and snappy persona an endearing, funny and badass character with a stellar arc. Clashing with her traditional views and cutting honesty, is Stephanie Hsu as her distant and anxious daughter, who has dual roles as her cocky, all powerful multiverse counterpart Jobu Topaki. It’s understandable why Ke Huy Quan optimistic, bumbling yet wholly dedicated Waymond is largely the favourite character for the majority, as his brazen optimism and compassionate nature make for a fitting contrast to Evelyn. Lastly, Jamie Lee Curtis’ blunt, snarky, yet fair auditor Deirdre is a very welcome addition and her strong presence and demeanour carries over into each of her variations, as well as her showing genuine vulnerability.
Everything, Everywhere All at Once is simply a joy to behold. Wildly creative, frequently hilarious, thrilling bonkers action, brimming with visually stunning and memorable imagery. The characters are all engaging and brilliantly performed, with their multifaceted personalities, arcs seamlessly integrated into the larger, exponential ideas and themes of the narrative. God, I love movies.