'Everything Everywhere All At Once' Review: Michelle Yeoh Against The Daniels' Multiverse
Could I interest you in Everything Everywhere All At Once or do you prefer nothing nowhere one at a time? To be fair, your answer doesn't really matter in this case but it doesn't hurt to be polite and ask at the very least. There are no options because writing and directing duo Daniels (a.k.a Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) just bombard your senses, in a good way, as they take you on a journey through the multiverse. Michelle Yeoh stars as Evelyn, a small business owner who's having a busy and heartrending day as she's getting audited by tax authorities, her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) plans to hand in divorce papers and daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) comes to visit with her girlfriend Becky (Tallie Medel). Things get even weirder as a different personality of Waymond appears and instructs Evelyn to save all parallel universes since a version of Joy called Jobu Tubaki is threatening to destroy every world in existence.
The unrelenting pace that Daniels use both in their writing and visual style can be a bit overstimulating at first but fortunately it is equally exciting since their direction is crystal clear. Following Evelyn's story is unpredictable in the best way possible while also dealing with issues like the divorce, her lack of understanding Joy's relationship and impact that properly expressing true love can have on your life. Tonally the duo also take chances constantly during the 139-minute runtime, not being afraid to reference old Asian cinema in different universes, making a pop-culture reference actually a returning gag and then rooting perhaps the film's most honest conversations to dialogue between rocks, all while delivering incredible action scenes on the side. While its hyper-energetic filmmaking might not be your or my preferred choice in cinema, it is undoubtedly accomplished with perfection here by all accounts.
Filmmaking aspects support that vision fully, whether that is Shirley Kurata's expansive costume design or the movie's most outstanding feat which is Paul Rogers' editing. Not a single set piece is wasted, all the ''verse-jumping'' (as Waymond describes it) is miraculously comprehensible and every showy cut or slow motion serves the scene's intention. This lets then performances shine just as they were imagined, like Quan's awe-inspiring changes between characters and his interactions with Yeoh which are truly the heart of the film. ''Everything'' would work brilliantly just as an action-adventure so it feels like a huge flex that the emotionality is driven home so well by those two actors (also with Hsu in last few scenes). It's hard not to weep during the movie's last thirty minutes where all those relationships in the beginning get a terrific payoff, while also providing some deserved laughs in midst of all the tears.
Smileys: Editing, Ke Huy Quan, Michelle Yeoh, screenplay, tone
Frowneys: No major flaws
Two Rocks in a mid-budget film? Wow!