Sunday, January 29, 2023

Everything Everywhere All at Once


Written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once is the story of a Chinese immigrant who is being audited by the IRS where she finds herself in a multiverse as she deals with the chaos the multiverse as well as an evil force that threatens the entire multiverse. The film is a genre-bending film that follows a woman trying to save her family as well as meeting different versions of them. Starring Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong, and Jamie Lee Curtis. Everything Everywhere All at Once is a whimsical and exhilarating film from Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.

The film follows the misadventures of a Chinese immigrant living in America running a laundromat with her husband as she is being audited by the IRS where a man who is an alternate version of her husband warns her about an event that threatens the multiverse as all hell breaks loose. It is a film with an offbeat premise that plays into the life of this women as well as these “what if” scenarios about the kind of life she could’ve had depending on the decisions she’s made in her life. The film’s screenplay by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert plays into the dysfunctional life of Evelyn Quan (Michelle Yeoh) as she is dealing with her elderly father Gong Gong (James Hong) who is visiting her for Lunar New Year while doesn’t want to tell him that her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) is a lesbian with a girlfriend in Becky (Tallie Medel). Things for Evelyn and her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) aren’t going to great as Waymond is thinking about divorcing Evelyn feeling like he’s let her down as they’re dealing with the IRS as an auditor in Deidre Beaubeirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis) who is looking over the family’s taxes where things become strange due when a version of Waymond emerges into his body to warn Evelyn about something crazy.

It all relates to a multiverse that is being threatened by this evil figure from a universe known as Alpha with Alpha-Waymond being able to get into his own body to communicate with Evelyn as other alternate version are around including Deidre who would constantly fight Evelyn. Evelyn would also encounter these alternate versions of herself through her mind including an idea of “what if” as it plays into what if she and Waymond never married as well as other things in her life. Most notably her relationship with Joy as it is filled with a lot of issues leading to an Alpha version of her known as Jobu Tupaki who is wreaking havoc on the entire multiverse with Evelyn being its main target. It also adds to the stake where both Joy and Waymond would go in and out of being possessed by their Alphaverse versions as they also deal with an Alphaverse version of Gong Gong who believes that Joy, when she’s possessed by Tupaki, is a greater danger as it relates to her nihilistic views.

The direction of the Daniels is definitely stylish as it play into these ideas of the multiverse as much of the film is shot on location at Simi Valley in California. While much of the compositions are straightforward in its close-ups and medium shots, there is a lot style to the overall presentation as nearly half of the film is set at the IRS building where much of the action occurs. Notably as there’s some wide shots in the location while the scenes in the multiverse would have the Daniels use different aspect ratios including a sequence of Evelyn as a movie star and other elements that play into alternate realities and “what ifs” scenarios. Even as there’s bits of animation such a crude kids’ drawing in a brief moment as there are these moments of surrealism that occur throughout the film. Notably in the scenes set in Tupaki’s home base as it is a home to her nihilistic views with the symbol of it is shaped like a bagel as there are a lot of references to bagels including how the Alphaverse is suffering due to the death of cows which is the source for cream cheese.

The Daniels also use different film references such as the sequence of Evelyn as a film star as she meets a version of Waymond as it is told in a style similar to the films of Wong Kar-Wai. There are also these weird moments as it play into this element of absurdity such as people having hot dogs for fingers or a strange version of Ratatouille involving a raccoon. The film is broken into three parts as it play into the journey that Evelyn would take as she also wonders all of the things that are happening as it relates to her family and their own fragile relationship. Even as it forces Evelyn to make some changes and realize about the decisions in her life would make an impact as she ponders about what if she chose this scenario or that one yet it is Waymond who would be the one to realize what must be done as it would give Evelyn a reason to save her family. Overall, the Daniels craft an evocative and wondrous film about a woman trying to save her family and confront her own life decisions relating to the multiverse.

Cinematographer Larkin Seiple does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography as it play into the look of the rooms in the IRS building as well as being low-key in its presentation with usage of vibrant lights at the palace that belongs to Tupaki. Editor Paul Rogers does amazing work with the editing as it has elements of style in montage-style match cuts, jump-cuts, and other stylish cuts that play into the action and drama. Production designer Jason Kisvarday, with set decorator Kelsi Ephraim and art director Amelia Brook, does excellent work with the look of the laundromat as well as the IRS office floor and other sets to play into the different multiverses that Evelyn would encounter. Costume designer Shirley Kurata does fantastic work with the costume from the clothes that Deidre wears as well as the different kind of clothes that Joy wear in the many personas she would have as Tupaki.

Special effects makeup artists Jason Hamer and Hiro Yada do terrific work with the design of some of the props such as the hot dog fingers as well as some of the makeup that Tupaki would wear. Special effects supervisor Jonathan Kombrinck and visual effects supervisor Zak Stoltz do incredible work with the visual effects in creating the look of some of the visual effects and the machines that are used to track individuals as well as the design of the bagel at Tupaki’s world. Sound editors Brent Kiser and Andrew Twite does superb work with the sound in some of the sound effects created as well as the way rooms sound on location. The film’s music by the band Son Lux is incredible for its rich score that is filled with unique ambient textures, offbeat percussion arrangements, somber string arrangements, and other elements that play into the suspense, drama, and humor as it is a highlight of the film while music supervisors Bruce Gilbert and Lauren Marie Mikus cultivate a soundtrack that features more original music from Son Lux that include collaborations with David Byrne, Mitski, Nina Moffitt, Hanna Benn, Andre 3000, yMusic, Rob Moose, and Randy Newman along with music from Claude Debussy for a key moment in the film.

The casting by Sarah Halley Finn is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles and appearances from Michiko Nishiwaki as a kung-fu rival of Evelyn from an alternate universe, Andy Le and Brian Le as a couple of Alpha Trophy Jumpers that Evelyn and Alpha-Waymond deal with, Audrey Wasilewki and Peter Banifaz as a couple of RV officers working with Alpha-Waymond in a van, Sunita Mani and Aaron Lazar as actors in a musical that Evelyn often watches, Biff Wiff as a regular customer at the laundromat in Rick who is friendly with the family, Tallie Medel as Joy’s girlfriend Becky whom Evelyn thinks is a nice person but doesn’t approve of the relationship in fear of her dad, Harry Shum Jr. as a rival hibachi chef Evelyn deals with in an alternate universe as it reveals a big secret about what he does, and Jenny Slate in a superb small role as the customer known as Debbie the Dog Mom who always carries a dog and always talk while also plays an alternate version that Evelyn deals with.

Jamie Lee Curtis is brilliant as Deirdre Beaubeirdre as an IRS auditor who is trying to go after Evelyn’s family over their taxes while she also plays alternate versions of Deirdre as an antagonist force against Evelyn as well as being her life partner in an alternate universe. James Hong is excellent as Gong Gong as Evelyn’s father who is often demanding and disapproving of everything Evelyn does and doesn’t like Waymond while the Alpha-verse version is a more cunning individual who believes that sacrificing Joy would save the multiverse. Stephanie Hsu is amazing in a dual role as Joy and Jobu Tupaki where Hsu brings an angst and wit as Joy as someone that is trying to find herself and such while Hsu brings a lot of charisma as Tupaki as this oddball antagonist who wears weird clothes and such yet is such a joy to watch.

Ke Huy Quan is incredible as Waymond Wang as Evelyn’s meek husband who felt like he had let Evelyn down as he deals with the chaos of their marriage and family life while Quan also play alternate versions of Waymond as the Alpha-verse version is a cunning warrior with an offbeat sense of humor and a version of what if Evelyn never married him as it is a great performance from Quan. Finally, there’s Michelle Yeoh in a tremendous performance as Evelyn Quan Wang as a laundromat owner who is dealing with tax issues and a chaotic family life who finds herself in the middle of this event relating to the multiverse as she also deals with different versions of herself from alternate universes as well as a lot of “what ifs” scenarios as it has Yeoh display not just humility and great physicality but also in her comedic reactions as it is truly a career-defining performance for the actress.

Everything Everywhere All at Once is a magnificent film from Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert that features a great ensemble cast lead by Michelle Yeoh with Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, James Hong, and Jamie Lee Curtis. Along with its dazzling visuals, quirky music score, its mixture of genres, and its story revolving around a woman having to save her family and their fates relating to the multiverse. It is a film that unconventional in its overall presentation as well as being this film that plays into the importance of family no matter how many versions they are in different universes. In the end, Everything Everywhere All at Once is an outstanding film from Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.

Related: Swiss Army Man - (The Death of Dick Long)

© thevoid99 2023


Brittani Burnham said...

I'm so happy with the positive reception this film got. It's not my favorite of the year, but it's so unique.

SJHoneywell said...

This is a hard film not to like for a bunch of different reasons. It will likely sweep a lot of the tech awards at the Oscars, but I'm hoping it wins for a lot of the prestige categories as well.

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-It's not my favorite of the year but it's still a phenomenal film.

@SJHoneywell-I'm rooting for it at the Oscars although I watched the film with my mother in the theaters and she thought it was OK. It's not really her thing.

ruth said...

I'm not in love w/ this movie despite having an all-Asian cast, but I LOVE Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan's performances who I think deserve all the awards. As far as cinematography and score are concerned though, Decision To Leave is far superior.

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-I agree.