By: Makena Leyh, SFU Student
From the company that created witty comedies like Spring Breakers, heart-wrenching dramas like Moonlight, and terrifying horror films like Hereditary, A24’s most recent cinematic release is truly one to remember. Currently screening in theatres since its debut in early April, Everything Everywhere All At Once is a thrilling concoction of creative production design, a touching storyline, hilariously choreographed fight scenes, and endless interdimensional madness.
The incredibly talented Michelle Yeoh stars as Evelyn Wang, a first generation Chinese-American woman whose life is quickly slipping out of her control. Her husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), is in the middle of filing for a divorce and her disapproving father (James Hong) has just flown in from China to visit them. Evelyn is struggling to accept her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), and her new girlfriend, and her family-owned laundromat is in deep financial trouble with an IRS audit. Evelyn’s world is turned upside down and inside out when she learns about the multiverse and how all of the infinite parallel universes are in danger of being eradicated.
Directing duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively referred to as Daniels, take their audience on a wonderfully weird journey where fanny packs and pomeranians make fantastic weapons, an everything bagel is something to be afraid of, and butt plugs are something to be fought over. As absurd as it may seem, the chaotic nature of Everything Everywhere All At Once is one of its greatest strengths. Over the span of the film the audience learns to accept and appreciate the oddities rather than question them. One of the film’s most memorable scenes consists of a heartfelt conversation between two rocks on the cliff of a desert canyon. Yes, two actual pieces of stone silently communicating with each other genuinely brought a tear to my eye.
The way the Daniels communicate their thrilling yet sentimental story about a woman’s complicated relationships with her family members, particularly the generational divide between her and her queer daughter, is so fresh and riveting that it is impossible to look away. Evelyn’s skepticism of Joy and her new girlfriend is realistically portrayed through a series of microaggressions, rather than overt intolerance. Throughout the film, we get to watch the tension in their relationship rise and fall as the mother and daughter duo slowly come to realize that they can learn from one another, and maybe they aren’t so different after all.
As a film major, I tend to be quite critical of blockbuster movies. However, Everything Everywhere All At Once exceeded my high expectations from the glowing critics’ reviews. Leaving the theater, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of excitement and inspiration after witnessing such a cinematic treasure. The film’s artistic use of cinematography and production design proved just how powerful the film medium can be. Within a meager two hours, I felt the devastation of a failing marriage, travelled to a universe where people have hotdogs for fingers, and so much more.
Everything Everywhere All At Once promises a hilarious, action-packed adventure for the critical or casual viewer, and is a great way to support Asian American and Pacific Islander folks in film!
Everything Everywhere All at Once is currently showing at all theatres, and will be digitally released to Prime Video and iTunes on May 17, 2022.