SXSW 2022: ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ is Utter Brilliance

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Everything Everywhere All At Once - But Why Tho

If you had told me that a movie would have a fight scene with a fanny pack, dildos, buttplugs, a moment where a guy turns to confetti, and a compassionate look at familial dynamics that would move me to tears, I would have laughed and said: “sign me up!” That epic chaos and compassion runs entirely through all of the 139 minutes of Everything Everywhere All At Once, a film that finds utter brilliance in action sequences, humor, and a stunning cast.

From A24, Everything Everywhere All At Once is directed and written by the Daniels (Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert) and stars Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong, and Jamie Lee Curtis. The film taps into the multiverse with a sci-fi action-adventure about Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), an exhausted Chinese American woman, who is married to an eternal optimist, has a daughter she doesn’t understand, a dad who disowned her, and who just can’t seem to finish her taxes.

The Wang family is made up of Evelyn, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), the optimistic and sunny dad, Joy, the messy and underachieving daughter, and Gong Gong, the grandfather who is completely out of touch with his family and left more than a few traumatic marks on Evelyn’s life. This dynamic hits all the notes it needs to, working to craft both dramatic tensions in relationships and to bring such sublime humor.

At times I yelled, laughed, gasped, and of course, cried. Oh, did I ugly cry into my mask. The chaotic nature of Everything Everywhere All At Once doesn’t obscure its beauty or its emotion. The mere act of making a very straightlaced and anxious character like Evelyn do absolutely improbable things like blowing into a person’s nose is extremely purposeful. The chaos is crafted with intention, meant to brush against Evelyn’s expectations for herself and her family as they jump through multiverses trying to save the world. But because the Daniels understand how to make the most out of visual gags, they also show how easy it is for them to carve out a beautiful and emotional story.

Everything Everywhere All at Once is a loud film that manages to never actually feels like it has the whole kitchen sink thrown in, even if its absurdity is off of the charts. Instead, the story remains focused on family. The core of this story is that Evelyn is just really bad at communicating with her loved ones and honestly, putting herself in their shoes. Stuck in her own expectations and way of thinking, Evelyn shuts down her daughter and husband, pushing her disappointment in herself into them.

While other films like Encanto and Turning Red recently gave those of us with strained relationships with our moms, fears of letting them down, and well, familial trauma stories where the children work out their problems, this one is about the mother doing the work. Evelyn has to unpack why she doesn’t see her family for who they are, why she doesn’t trust them, and ultimately how she is pushing them farther and farther away. This doesn’t mean that Evelyn is without her own strained parental relationship, Gong Gong’s role in the film may be small but it is pivotal.

Everything Everywhere All At Once - But Why Tho

In these emotional moments, Everything Everywhere All At Once also keeps its humor and its heart in a way I can’t say I’ve seen before. More than Yeoh is such a phenomenal actress as Evelyn. Playing multiple versions of herself, executing stunning action sequences, and moving the audience to tears in the dramatic moments, she does it all. Yeoh is strong and she is fragile all at once as Evelyn. She’s aloof and cares so deeply at the same time. She contains everything all at once it making her performance a standout in not just her filmography but in films that have come out this year.

But Yeoh isn’t the only amazing performance. As Waymond, Quan offers up the best fanny pack beating in history and knows how to jump in and out of awkwardly optimistic dad to man looking to save the world. While Yeoh sees a multitude of experiences, Quan has to oscillate constantly between versions of himself. He’s superb. And really, every actor in Everything Everywhere All At Once delivers performances that hit with Hsu’s Joy and Curtis’ Deirdre balancing out the chaos.

Everything Everywhere All At Once is everything. The Daniels’ brilliant use of comedy, action, and drama showcase their genre strengths in a way you wouldn’t expect. Without much left to say, Everything Everywhere All At Once sticks every single landing it tries to make and offers up a unique and emotional take on the multiverse.

Everything Everywhere All At Once is available in theaters nationwide on March 25, 2022.


Everything Everywhere All At Once
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

Everything Everywhere All At Once is everything. The Daniels’ brilliant use of comedy, action, and drama showcase their genre strengths in a way you wouldn’t expect. Without much left to say, Everything Everywhere All At Once sticks every single landing it tries to make and offers up a unique and emotional take on the multiverse.