March 31, 2022

GENRE | Michelle Yeoh Fights 'Everything Everywhere All at Once'

"You're living your worst you."
Michelle Yeoh Jamie Lee Curtis Daniel Kwan Daniel Scheinert | Daniels Everything Everywhere All at Once A24
A24 / Elevation Pictures
Written and directed by the filmmaking duo collectively credited as the "Daniels" (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), Everything Everywhere All at Once is their martial arts action comedy riff on the concept of the multiverse—multiple versions of yourself existing across universes or realities all at the very same time as the title would suggest. How it's realized on the screen feels like pure and dazzling cinematic chaos.

Starring Hong Kong screen legend Michelle Yeoh as an immigrant laundromat owner, Evelyn, her tax troubles and family strife with her meek husband (Ke Huy Quan) and defiant daughter Stephanie Hsu anchor the universal Chinese-American story before things start to get very weird. Evelyn quickly gets wrapped into a multiversal war where alternate versions of herself and her family are trying to prevent a great evil from destroying all the universes simultaneously.

There's some inspired casting with everyman Chinese-American actor James Hong getting to stretch his chops with a meaty role as Evelyn's domineering father and Jamie Lee Curtis co-starring as a rather frumpy and grumpy IRS auditor. How the Daniels reuse and repeat characters and actors in clever ways to both save money and emphasize the multiple versions of everything makes the cinematic storytelling feel all the more fluid.

Yeoh is always great and so physical in her first American leading role, but it's Quan's inspired casting—after becoming famous for playing Short Round Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as a child—playing both the doormat husband/father to a Kyle Reese type saviour in addition to alternate appearances as a suave Tony Leung type in multiple realities.

A sort of low-budget, overstuffed riff on The Matrix and comic book universes, the Daniels craft Everything Everywhere All at Once into a video game actioner injected with a ton of heart and cultural family touchstones about Asian-American immigrant culture. It's a daring, often mesmerizing maximalist ride filled with spectacular visuals despite taking place mostly in drab environments like generic office floors or a laundromat.


More | YVArcade / AV Club / Film Freak / Indiewire

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