Weekend Watch: Everything Everywhere All At Once
A trippy, wonderful star turn for Michelle Yeoh.
Image Credit: A24 Films
Welcome to the latest edition of Weekend Watch, in which I recommend (or occasionally warn against) movies or TV shows I’ve been checking out. This week, Michelle Yeoh is jumping across universes and Chris Pine is digging into his espionage past. Follow James on Twitter: @jamwhite
Though I usually tend to cover movies that are launching the week of each column, I’m more than willing to make an exception for Everything Everywhere All At Once, which is expanding to a wider Stateside release this week.
The film is the latest piece of unique, crazed entertainment from Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, who collectively work under the title of Daniels. They’ve turned the unexpected into a calling card, blending surreal imagery with heartfelt stories. This is, after all, the duo whose last movie was Swiss Army Man, which featured Paul Dano larking about with a farting corpse played by Daniel Radcliffe.
Everything Everywhere is essentially the story of Evelyn Wang, a Chinese American immigrant and laundromat owner who discovers that she might just be the person who could save the universe. And not just her universe… All the universes. Yes, multiverses are very much in now, with the giant film franchises exploring them in different ways and now this. But suffice to say this is a more creative, dazzling use of the idea than even the recent Spider-Man outing.
Wang is alerted by an alternative version of her husband, Waymond Wang (not a spelling error), played by Ke Huy Quan to the fact that a mysterious villain is searching the multiverse for Evelyn, convinced that she can be recruited for a dark plan involving a bagel that’s also a black hole. But poor Evelyn is more worried about the audit she’s suffering through at the hands of meticulous and seemingly heartless IRS officer Deirdre Beaubeirdra (played in a fright wig and spectacularly unflattering sweater by Jamie Lee Curtis). Soon, though, she’s rocketing through alternate dimensions, seeing where her life could have gone and confronting some very real generational trauma. It’s the emotional anchors of Evelyn’s life that come into sharp focus, as her complicated relationships with her critical father (James Hong) and frustrated daughter (Stephanie Hsu) pull at her all the while she’s leaping between realities, googly eyes popping up everywhere.
Stylistically, this might be the most dynamic movie I’ve seen in a long time, with influences plucked from The Matrix(and the Asian action cinema it itself references), soap opera, the Coens and so much more, all fuelling something that feels completely fresh.
Yeoh is, of course, magnificent, handling the drama and many of the action set-pieces with the aplomb of someone who has been doing this for years (and has deserved big, thoughtful, dramatic and funny leading roles in Western movies for just as long). Curtis is pure comedy gold as Deirdre, a grotesque sort who has her own fascinating alternates. Quan, meanwhile, who is still best known as Indiana Jones’ Short Round and The Goonies’ Data, is a revelation – finally gifted something he can truly get his teeth into, the actor and action choreographer more than steps up to the part, playing a hapless husband, multiversal warrior and, in one inspired segment, a romantic lead in the Wong Kar-Wai mould (he coincidentally worked with the director behind the camera on 2046.) Hsu, meanwhile, who has previously made memorable appearances on Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens and Shang-Chi, is reliably multifaceted here.
There is lunacy and love poured into this in equal measure (you’ll never look at Pixar’s Ratatouille the same way again) and I can’t recommend this one highly enough – easily a contender for making my list of favourite films for 2022. This is the sort of talent display that deserves rewarding with eyeballs (and not just googly eyes).
Everything Everywhere All At Once is on general release in the United States now. A UK date has still to be announced.