Michel’s review published on Letterboxd:
it’s perfect in that it’s not that at all; it’s flawed as all fuck, purposefully so. what’s more human than that?
the second film in the entirety of history to achieve true cinematic bratitude, and I mean that as the highest of all compliments.
part 1: eventuality
”You can do anything because you’re so bad at everything!”
Everything Everywhere All at Once is cinema condensed, a multifaceted flower of genre shifting mania, supersonic fractures, and stardust memories. time in a standstill as frozen images sprint a marathon, banal insanity superimposed onto the extraordinary normal. it’s the ultimate oxymoron, contradiction contradicting itself at every twist, turn, headbutt, and buttplug shaped award.
directing duo Daniels are the hot girl; they’re iconic, they’re legendary, and they are the moment. this is such a lovingly crafted film, such a brilliantly realized feature, such a passionate expression of moonstone wonder, burning anger, teardrop depression. they’ve managed to direct the spirit of creativity, the eternal soul of the silver screen into a concentrated blast of emotion, spiraling and coalescing and decomposing and reconstructing at every interval, in every scene, every shot, every edit, every camera movement and transition. this film politely but firmly demands your attention, delights in your smile, screams with your howling, trips and tumbles and stumbles in tandem with your feet and knees as you watch it unfold and unravel like a metamorphic metaphysical onion.
I’ve never witnessed a film that works as much as this does—even at points when it shouldn’t, when it conceivably couldn’t—and especially never one that does so with as much joy and jubilation. discordant harmony, chaos and specificity working in such well-oiled companionship to rewire your brain and kiss it to a fine paste. the visual identity of Everything Everywhere All at Once squelches in ethereal viscosity, a plastic kiddy pool waterfall streaming down with grace and deliberation. its sound direction is elegant instrumentation playing a sonata of wackadoodle wackiness like a cartoonish piece of classical music, with fight scenes set to Clair de Lune performed on silly steroids. the action articulates itself like an electric arcana; quiet in contemplation, booming explosively, a thunderstorm tarot card reading.
this whole cast is charming and engaging and magnetic. the supporting characters, led by a fantastic, terrifying, bonkers Jaime Lee Curtis, are incredible in their own right, but the powerhouse trio at the center of this bagel are defiantly undeniable and supremely unquantifiable; Michelle Yeoh gives a career best performance as the put upon, cynical, broken, healing Evelyn, Ke Huy Quan attaches goofy, exuberant, and heartbreaking feeling to the ever optimistic Waymond, and Stephanie Hsu is a balloon headpop breakout turn, imbuing a sucker punch hit of sarcastic intimidation and striking despair far beyond her years in Joy.
this film is an extended googly eye vision board, a hyperactive implosion of seismic thought and transcendental sensation, a conceptual smorgasbord of tax auditing and hot dog finger ballroom dancing.
it’s breathtaking, exciting, immersing, and so utterly, inescapably painful…
part 2: brutality
endless vacillation, moments in suspended animation. warped time, bendable space, universal constants: death and taxes, frayed pathways and broken relationships, distracted minds and complex people hidden behind layers of assumption and constructs of control.
office building beige boredom, blue filter VHS cropped memories, rainy alley regret drenched in green. cinematic synesthesia; tempting possibilities rendered in multitudes of color and hue: a tangled mosaic of scarlet, taupe, orange, fuchsia, lavender, mauve, turquoise, grey, chartreuse, a musicality of moods experimental in its expression. dialogue of constant duality, an exploding temple of repetition, reference, regurgitation.
the agony of existence, echoes of yesterday dying, vestiges of tomorrow sighing, rinse and repeat and rinse and repeat. method, focus, intent; inflicted pain to connect and survive and inscribe selves onto selves, layers of clothing simultaneously constricting and freeing. the mind is a mirror to the soul, a looking glass of movie magic teleportation. places unseen, time not spent, lives that could’ve been all in the palm of your hand.
the torment of multiplicity, folding sleeves of who am I? where is this? what if? interweaving identities, tightly sewing the thread of the alternate self onto human flesh. tick tock tick tock tick tocking deadlines biting and sucking the life-force out your neck, a cult of harsh circles drawn on paper and stapled onto your face, timelines massacred en masse for something, anything, to end it all.
totality at the final eternity; everything at once, nothing at all. sausage finger romance, genitalia nunchucks, movie star glamor, pinky-fu fighting, Raccaccoonie cooking with Mike Chang from Glee, none of it matters. it’ll all fade, all fall away, disappoint and deteriorate: the detritus of the multiverse. let go, be a rock, ascend into the everything bagel at the end of the world.
why stay? walk away, walk up to death, walk through the fatal midnight baked good. there’s nothing, nothing here, nothing worth a damn in the space of eternal everything, misery leaking through every path and person you might’ve been.
but there’s something, something there, something still calling out in the darkness, something that still yearns, still dreams, still hopes. it’s easy to let go, easy to forget the good when all you can see is the bad, the pain, the injury, the mediocrity of life. it’s easy to forget love, to forget brightness and laughter and light when we fall into ourselves in the stew of everything, lost in the sauce till there’s only dark and damp and depressing.
the world is bullshit, eating your brain and making you shitty, but kindness isn’t dead, it can’t die; it lives in me, it lives in you, it lives in us forever and always, even if it’s unexpected or hard to find under the dirt and grime and apocalyptic bagel cult vibes. it’s in everything we touch even, looking back at you with a plastic googly eye smize.
part 3: sincerity
“No matter what, I still want to be here with you.”
I’m not good at being here.
I’m not great with people. I don’t get them, don’t at all understand the intricacies of conversation and social function. it’s hard for me to connect, hard to keep up with family and friends. I’m not even sure I have any friends; not close ones likely, no best ones definitely.
I’m not comfortable with myself most days existing in me. feeling things in my body is embarrassing, exhausting; I’m constantly tired, constantly high strung and stressed out, constantly trying to hold it together. I can’t relax, I can’t stop ever so I want to stop, stop it all sometimes.
I know I’m not alone in this, and that some people have it way worse than me, but it’s hard to articulate that mentally, hard to hold that feeling in your hands that you’re not the only one who feels like a broken peg. it’s an inescapable loneliness that feels both concocted by the world and entirely self created, perpetually discomforting and alienating.
I wonder all the time what if I made other choices? what if I did it differently? I want to be someone else a lot of days, another version of me who has a better life, better friends, better social skills; someone who isn’t a mess, a dumb stupid loser who can’t call anyone or keep plans. I can’t, though, and so I blame myself, I blame others, I blame the world for things happening to me that I can’t express because if I did I feel like I’d curl up and die on the spot.
it’s a visceral feeling, a scream at the back of my throat. that want, that wish, to shout all my torment into the world, to buck at decorum and finally feel real somewhere else as somebody better and more clever.
Everything Everywhere All at Once gets that. it understands that feeling with such vitality and accuracy. it feels the anguish, experiences the anxiety, displays the cringe with a completeness I never could. it feels real and it wants me to feel real too; that’s the whole point, the message, the moral, the what have you beneath this bizarre and dazzling fizzy soda pop camp extravaganza of a film.
it never fails to feel, to be passionate, to be extraordinarily strange and concussive. it’s raucous and joking and bumbling one second and terrifying and screaming and shaking with hair pulling insecurity and anxiety the very next. it’s a raw and deep and cuckoo bananas crazy thing, something that elicits super stretched smiling, heaving and breathing tears, and choking unstoppable laughter at the same time in every single scene.
this film reminds me of the power art has over us, the change media can create, the inspiration it can breed, the connections made through our collective consumption of it. this film reminds me of movies on a conceptual level; it’s like the spiritual successor of the Nicole Kidman AMC ad but in feature length form. it reminds me of why I watch movies in the first place, what I love about them, how they make me feel alive in ways I can’t feel on my own.
all of my favorite films, every single one on my list actually (especially near the top), have made me feel something with such singular visceral energy; made me feel brave when I couldn’t muster the courage, made me feel tiny and human whenever I get too bold in my britches, made me feel in love even if I haven’t had it yet in this lifetime.
Everything Everywhere All at Once is one of two films I’ve seen that accomplishes all of the above and as well makes me feel truly and utterly genuinely real, alive, here and existing. it channels me, myself, my past, my life, my family, my everything, my everywhere, my all at once.
it’s films like these that keep me grounded; I’m glad to be here on this earth, glad to be someone who exists, who is loved, who cherishes, even when it’s tough, even when it hurts.
it’s hard for me to be me—to be in this moment, to be in any moment—but it’s something I’m getting better at every day.