Everything Everywhere All at Once

Everything Everywhere All at Once ★★★★

80

It’s not understating it to call this the craziest cinematic experience I’ve ever had and probably will ever have. It’s a chaotic explosion of flashy editing, rapid pacing and absurdist humor all mashed together in a movie concerning an aging Chinese immigrant trying to do her taxes before being thrown into an infinite multiverse. I understand why it’s getting the level of hype it is receiving currently (#1 on the Letterboxd Top 250) because of the truly unique viewing experience. However, that level of hype had me prepared for a perfect film. The Daniels achieve so much with how incredibly entertaining and original Everything Everywhere All at Once is while also telling a compelling story. The emotional highs are certainly on a masterclass level of filmmaking. But it is by no means perfect in its entirety. It’s overlong, due to excessive action sequences, the story doesn’t all come together in the end as neatly as it should and the humor occasionally falters. But at the same time, the excessive length, overuse of silly yet well choreographed action sequences and crude humor all play a role in why this was such an extraordinary theater experience. Please go witness this fantastic event in a theater while you can because it’s simply unforgettable. 

Any moment of dialogue that may lack poeticism is infinitely heightened by Michelle Yeoh’s commanding performance as the lead. She drives the insane story to insane levels with all of the extensive different emotions she conveys. I’d be surprised if she is nominated for Best Actress but it’s well deserved if she gets in. She makes all of the seemingly basic lines have a lot more meaning behind them. And she’s also hilarious. Her partner in the film is played by an actor who we all know as the witty kid from The Goonies, Ke Huy Quan. He came back from a 20 year acting hiatus and what a relief that he’s back. He has a dual role as different versions of himself (from another universe) and is equally as funny as Yeoh is. But it’s in his emotional moments too where he excels beyond reason. Even with some of the moments being porrly cut off by a quick edit away from the emotion, he still makes you weep. 

Stephanie Hsu as the daughter is also a very strong emotional performer and carries her weight beside her more seasoned cast. The connecting factor with all of the actors here is that the emotion brought out from all of them is on an inconceivably high level. Hsu’s chemistry with her mother in particular is gut wrenchingly real and their back and forth dialogue has all of the complexity that you never expect after watching the silly fight sequences. Jamie Lee Curtis plays an IRS agent that clearly represents the “Karen” personality type. But I love that she’s actually fleshed out by the end and given a good conclusion. And James Hong as the grandfather has one remarkable moment of emotion in the third act that will once again have you in tears. 

On top of all of the enormous weight of raw emotion thrown at you, this film is also technically marvelous. The editing is so rapid that I honestly expected to not like it at first. But it’s intense enough to make it all work. It’s truly perfect. Paul Rogers must be nominated and win for it. It astounds me that he’s only edited one other narrative feature. Lark Seiple’s cinematography is also gorgeous with a distinctive style of using varying aspect ratios depending on whether the sequence is currently in the “normal” or “epic” world. The film is competently scored by Son Lux who also only has a few films connected to his name. It’s the second best score of the year so far. And the costumes and practical effects are all top notch. 

What the hell is it about though? Within all of the craziness, a powerful message of love and acceptance somehow comes through. It is consistently mentioned that the daughter believes nothing really matters. Politics, social media, her own personal issues and everything in between are too much for her to handle and it’s implied that she doesn’t want to live a life of worrying about all of that. But the ultimate realization is that although all of that does indeed not matter, the ones that love you the most are what do. Her mother is extremely demanding and difficult on her daughter. But it’s underneath all of that seemingly negative nonsense that is the person who loves you the most. This is also similarly explored in a beautiful way through the husband and wife relationship. Daniels push a passionate message of hope. Hopeful lovers are happy lovers. And hopeful families can overcome literally anything. 

Completely off topic final thought but you know I have to mention Raccaccoonie. I can not believe they did that. One of my favorite films of all time referenced in a hilarious way put the brightest smile on my face. Ratatouille for life. 

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