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Review: Everything Everywhere All At Once. A brilliant masterpiece

  • Release year: 2022
  • Director: Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.
  • Producers: Virginie Besson-Silla, Dan Kwan, Mike Larocca, Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, Daniel Scheinert and Jonathan Wang.
  • Screenplay by: Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.
  • Cinematographer: Larkin Seiple.
  • Music by: Son Lux.

Synopsis: Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), a woman dissatisfied with her life, discovers that it is possible to travel to other realities in which her existence is different. This discovery goes hand in hand with that of a great evil that endangers the multiverse, and which only Evelyn can face.

Shotgun commentary: whatever you are about to do in the next 2 hours and 19 minutes, it can wait. Watch this movie first. It is the BEST THING I’ have seen in a long time. It is random and stupid and wholesome and…weirdly accurate? Overall, it is a piece of art that takes a lot of common insecurities and turns them into a beautiful and hilarious experience.

A cute rock in the desert, image for the review of Everything, Everywhere All At Once
Fig. 1. How to make a rock look cute, courtesy of Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheihert. Source: Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheihert, 2022).

Review:

Knowing the directors are also responsible for Swiss Army Man (2016), I did not expect anything less than getting my mind blown. And blew it they did. I will speak at length of all the reasons why this feature is absolutely magnificent very soon, nevertheless, I need to complain about a tiny thing first. Because complaining is fun and it makes me happy.

Jobu Tupaki turning a security guard into confetti, image for the review of Everything, Everywhere All At Once
Fig. 2. The feeling I get when I complain about things represented through a security guard. Source: Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheihert, 2022).

When did audiences become sheep?

Everything Everywhere All At Once is divided in three parts, as most narratives are, because that is the classic structure. This issue has not been mentioned in previous reviews because those films had bigger fishes to fry, so a movie as good as Everything Everywhere All At Once, offers the perfect chance to acknowledge it: when exactly did filmmakers decide that their audiences are dumb? When did we become incapable of distinguishing the three acts of a play (movie, in this case) unless being specifically told by a gigantic sign?!

For this film, it is a way to explain the title since each part is called “Everything”, “Everywhere” and “All At Once”, respectively. However, it does not keep me from getting annoyed every time they do that in a film, which is most of the time nowadays! Once was neat, twice was fun, 56415352846 times feels a tad condescending.

Evelyn sorting out papers while her dad eats, image for the review of Everything, Everywhere All At Once
Fig. 3. The first obvious title to let the audience know that the first act has begun. Source: Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheihert, 2022).

That being said, let’s talk about one of the best features of the film: the editing! What a masterpiece.

Your brain will melt and you will love it

The pace of the film is just brilliant. The way the rhythm goes into a frenzy and then stops completely with the canyon scene is so clever and potent. Despite that undoubtedly being the most remarkable part of the editing, the rest of the movie is also a delight to watch. Every single element is perfectly orchestrated to fit with the rest, creating a composition of choreography, music and colours that is both overwhelming and magnificent.

The way the multiverse is presented feels like what Dr. Strange and The Multiverse of Madness (2022) should have been instead of just a tiny sequence of psychedelic filters, which is a bit disappointing in a way because it felt like an amazing experience until Everything Everywhere All At Once opened my eyes to what an outstanding multiverse representation actually looks like.

Evelyn traveling among realities for the first time, image for the review of Everything, Everywhere All At Once
Fig. 4. Evelyn experiencing travel among realities for the first time. Source: Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheihert, 2022).

Hilarious insanity

This unbelievable editing to represent the formidable multiverse is very cleverly compensated by short humorous moments that relieve some of the tension and give you a little reprieve from the overwhelming amount of stimuli that you are being subjected to. For example, I cannot remember the last time that I saw a nameless goon worry about the well-being of another goon during a fight against the good guy. It is a silly detail, but it felt so wholesome and realistic, a difficult feat to achieve during an interdimensional fight scene.

It is little moments like that one, the grandfather’s desperate quest for food, the dog fight, and of course all the random things that the characters have to do to get abilities –which reminds me a lot of Swiss Army Man by the way– bring a special ingredient into the mix that makes the movie all the more unique and enjoyable.

Jailed Racacconie, image for the review of Everything, Everywhere All At Once
Fig. 5. Raccacconie being taken away. Source: Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheihert, 2022).

Another important component that makes the film so remarkable is the choice of themes that it brings up, three of which really hit home for me.

Enjoy the now

The first one is to appreciate what you have instead of getting caught up in what could have been. Granted, it is not the most original message, but the way in which this movie invites you to stop for a moment and appreciate the actual value of what and who you have in your life was unexpected. It might have just been a situational thing, but I did stay still for a good while during the credits just thinking about it. It is curious how a message so often repeated can affect you when the source and the channel are carefully and properly devised.

Fig. 6. The Wang family doing taxes. Source: Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheihert, 2022).

It’s never too late

The second theme, a personal favourite of mine, is the temporal relationship between success and goals seen from both the perspective of the twenty-something years old daughter and that of her mother. The moment during adolescence when you discover the real world and you are lost and confused and everything is chaos, provokes a turmoil that does not go away once you enter adulthood.

People in their mid 20s (talking from experience here) feel this oppressive weight in their chest when confronted with the idea that they should have their lives figured out already. Twenty years is not necessarily enough time, especially when you take into consideration how much there is to explore out there. Figuring out who you are and what you want out of life is just as valid when you are twenty as it is when you are sixty, and the fact that they expose this truth without making it a big drama is absolutely fantastic.

Fig. 7. Joy trying to express her pain and stress. Source: Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheihert, 2022).

True lies

In addition to conventions, social media and most traditional media representations show these “chaotic” young adult characters who don’t have a job or any money but somehow they live in gorgeous spacious apartments in the city centre, they wear the most amazing outfits and dine at the fanciest restaurants. This creates a fake ideal that stresses a lot of people out.

Anyone who doesn’t have everything figured out, just like Evelyn, feels like they are wasting their lives. Portraying realistic characters that have hard lives and work tirelessly to make a living without turning them into depressing dramatic people shows that some artists in the cinema sphere still know what it is like to be a normal person, no more and no less. That is truly encouraging to see at a time where everything tends to be so extreme one way or the other.

Fig. 8. Joy brings her girlfriend to lunch with her parents, who live in a normal apartment considering their estimated income. Source: Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheihert, 2022).

Kindness is everything

Rants aside, the third theme, like the first one, is nothing revolutionary, but it is arguably the most important one. Kindness is a hugely underrated trait in the vicious world that we live in. The use of that attribute as the ultimate weapon against destruction and the absolute nothingness in a film so full of violence, while not incredibly original, sends an excellent message that is not nearly as repeated as it should be: being kind is the way forward, it is not a weakness, it is the answer.

Fig. 9. Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) being his nice and adorable self, thus proving his point. Source: Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheihert, 2022).

Perfomances and quotes

Still, not only the actions send messages, the dialogues are a triumph. The angsty teenager that still lives in me was very impressed with a lot of the villain’s statements. Jobu Tupaki has pretty epic lines that will leave you in awe. Not only because they are funny or sassy, as it usually happens with charismatic antiheroes, but because they are painfully true and insightful in their angsty nihilism.

Fig. 10. Jobu Tupaki being all gorgeous and intense. Source: Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheihert, 2022).

This leads me to the performances. Every actor is spot-on, which you might have deduced if you follow any cinema awards, but what these do not tell you is that even the extras are flawless! It is quite enjoyable to be able to watch a movie without a single actor out of character. Nothing pulls you away from the story, which gives the sensation of watching real-life events even though nothing makes sense and crazy things are happening all the time.

Fig. 11. Jobu Tupaki arguing with Evelyn while every extra stays in position. Source: Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheihert, 2022).

Important parenthesis in the review:

There is one thing that, no matter how many times it is mentioned, it will never be enough. THANK YOU for hiring a woman in her sixties to play the main character in an action/sci-fi movie, and THANK YOU for hiring another woman in her sixties to play her counterpart. It is about time that the industry realised that actresses are equally talented before and after they fit fifty, and it is about time that there is an actual change regarding this ageism further than the revolutionary-ish drama/romantic comedy about being old.

It is one thing to create narratives about how capable women over fifty are, and it is a much different thing to actually prove that you believe that. So thank you for finally giving a woman the same role that no one would bat an eye about were it given to a man with the same age.

Fig. 12. Everlyn fighting Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis). Source: Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheihert, 2022).

End of parenthesis. Now all hail the fashion

Last but not least: the costume design. That wardrobe is a massive display of talent. The amount of clothes and accessories needed for this piece is VAST and absolutely nothing is out of place.

Every outfit tells the story of its wearer, which also helps the audience A LOT when it comes to recognising each reality; especially when they start switching quickly and you don’t really have time to process each of them. It certainly helps to have such a greatly planned wardrobe filled with powerful statement clothes that help you recognise instantly who you are watching even if they are on screen for half a second. Such an enterprise is the cherry on top of the brilliant experience that is Everything Everywhere All At Once.

Fig. 13. Jobu Tupaki and Evelyn staring at the bagel in their very recognisable outfits. Source: Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheihert, 2022).

Advice to take from this movie:

  • Appreciate what is instead of obsessing over what could have been.
  • You will figure your life out eventually, or not, but that’s okay too.
  • Be thankful for having fingers with bones and articulations in them.
Fig. 14. Evelyn in the reality where fingers are hot dogs. Source: Everything Everywhere All At Once (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheihert, 2022).

What’s your take? Did the movie hit you harder than you expected? Did you have a few laughs but don’t really understand why I’m getting all metaphysical about it? Did you, against all odds, completely loathed it and don’t get the hype? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments below or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema related articles check out the rest of my blog!

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