Everything Everywhere All At Once review: Smart, Funny

Last Updated : 24 September 2022, 04:00 IST

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Everything Everywhere All At Once

English (Theatres)

Directors: Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert

Cast: Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Qua

Rating: 4/5

In one of the earliest scenes in ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ Evelyn Wang’s (Michelle Yeoh) husband from the alternative universe (aka Alphaverse) says, “You have so many goals you never finished, dreams you never followed. You’re living your worst you”.

This line sets the tone for one of the most entertaining movies of the year that cleverly manages to balance the sorrow and joy of existence. The line is both sad as well as full of hope. Evelyn is the ‘chosen one’. But, she is the ‘chosen one’, not because she is the best, but she is the worst of all the possible Evelyns.

Written and Directed by Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert (collectively known as Daniels) ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ has a simple story line: An Asian American woman named Evelyn Wang runs a successful Laundromat with her husband Waymond Wang which is being audited by the IRS. The relationship with both her daughter and the husband is faltering.

That’s when she is visited by the Waymond from the Alphaverse, who wants her to fight against Jobu Tapaki — an elusive Alphaverse villain who wants to destroy everything, everywhere, all the universes. What happens next is a lesson in how to make a movie that is funny, smart with a lot of heart.

The dialogues with a lot of crosstalk and mis(sed) communication, reminded me of Noah Baumbach minus over-the-top emotionality. A cinephile can easily spot the subtle and not-so-subtle nod to Stanley Kubrick, Wong Kar Wei and common tropes of Kung fu movies.

The circle as a shape is a motif that appears in the form of mirrors, lanterns, googly eyes, front-load washing machines and of course, the bagel. In a movie where things are defying gravity, literally and figuratively, cinematography and editing
keep it rooted.

It is rather unbelievable that this movie was initially written for Jackie Chan and then changed to involve a married couple. The casting is superb. Michelle Yeoh and Stephanie Hsu shine in their roles as the mother-daughter pair at odds. But, it’s Ke Huy Qua’s portrayal of multiple Waymonds that will remain even after you exit the theatre.

In every universe, he is in love with Evelyn. But, the way he expresses it differs in each. It is a travesty that this actor had to retire in 2002 due to the lack of roles for Asian American actors in Hollywood.

Incidentally, in the classic 2003 movie Freaky Friday, a mother-daughter pair played by Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan end up swapping bodies, due to a Chinese fortune cookie.

The same Lee Curtis plays an IRS agent in a story about Chinese-Americans. Sure, Hollywood has come a long way. The Magical Asian trope has made way for expansive, imaginative stories of immigrant experience. That too in a genre like, science-fiction, which has historically been exclusionary. Kudos!

Published 23 September 2022, 18:38 IST

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