As far as movies go, Everything Everywhere All At Once is the cinematic equivalent to falling in a ball pit full of googly eyes. There’s movement in every direction. You’re surrounded by beautiful colors. And both the ball pit and the movie are deeper than you originally imagined. Everything Everywhere is as eccentric as the duo directing it (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as “the Daniels”). I would expect nothing less from the directors of the quirky 2016 film Swiss Army Man.
In this science fiction/comedy fable, main character Evelyn Quan finds herself as an unlikely hero. She is faced with new and evolving powers. But will those powers be enough to fight opponents from the multiverse and heal the heartache in her regular life?
Sure, the Daniels have joined in on the trending subject of multiverses, but their unique take doesn’t feel like a regurgitation of a chic theme. They reimagined it, pulled and folded it like taffy until it took on a new texture all together.
The movie evolves like a kaleidoscope. When you finally think you have a grasp of what’s going on, the shapes shift again, forming another brilliant and moving menagerie of sight and sound.
It’s not just absurdist and funny. It’s not just a philosophical message draped in bright colors. It is also a touching story of family, missed opportunities, and that is where the heart of the movie lies. Those topics are what make the movie memorable and relatable. Everyone has felt the need for acceptance and love by family (whether blood-related or not). Have you ever realized a missed opportunity in hindsight? That relatability grounds the fantastical fable that is Everything Everywhere All At Once. The fact that those characters are Asian make the movie even more amazing.
There have been too many movies in the past where Asian characters are in the background or labeled as the quirky sidekick. When they were in the spotlight, they were an antagonist or a villain. The “shady businessman.” The “silly foreigner.” Worse yet was the “interloper.” Times are changing. There have been quite a few Asian leading ladies and men who have shown amazing versatility on the screen. One of those actors is Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh.
Yeoh’s portrayal of Evelyn Quan is a stunning example of the adaptability of Asian actors. Evelyn is equal parts loving and distant, cautious and brave, confused and insightful. She leads viewers through this chaotic and existential movie. Yeoh will bring you to tears, make you laugh, and will leave you with questions that linger long after the credits have finished rolling.
The movie isn’t without its faults. The 140-minute runtime might be a touch long for some viewers, while the humor might not be for others. Those who are faint of heart (or prone to seizures) might want to pass as well. But if you’re looking for an existential film that will linger in your heart, give it a try.