To put it plainly, Everything Everywhere All at Once finds true beauty and balance in the ultimate chaos of everyday life. It could be said that this film is thrilling, exciting, hilarious, insightful, dark, emotional, weird, strange and depressing—just like everyday life. But even so, making statements like these still sells short what an honest and life-changing experience watching this film is. It is sure to inspire future generations of filmmakers and film lovers.
Directed by the newly-iconic Daniels duo made up of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Swiss Army Man), Everything Everywhere All at Once follows Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), an aging Chinese immigrant who runs a laundromat with her family. One day, Evelyn finds herself thrust into the world of the multiverse, living through all of the lives that she could have had if she had made different decisions in her past. As she is swept up in a life-changing adventure, it becomes clear that her potential power in the multiverse is due to Evelyn having given up on her dreams, leaving her with so much left to experience. Despite the frantic and fast pace, the Daniels never forge the heart of the movie. They ground the stakes of a concept as mind-bending as the multiverse into the real-life stakes of a strained bond between mother and daughter.
Everything Everywhere All at Once centers Yeoh’s Evelyn as the protagonist in a performance that completely understands and utilizes her strengths as an actor, giving her the role of her lifetime. Yeoh’s training in martial arts from movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon along with dance and her experience playing just about every kind of character imaginable makes her perfect for Evelyn as she embraces all of her possibilities. Yeoh portrays Evelyn as charismatic, tender and relatable, but also allows the flaws of her character to come through the screen, particularly when it comes to accepting the sexuality of her younger daughter. The Daniels allow Yeoh, along with the other characters in the film, to be real three-dimensional people. They mess up and make mistakes as they simply try to figure out what the hell is going on around them and where their place is in… well, everything.
At the heart of the film is the idea of embracing all of the different emotions and experiences one can have in life, despite how little and meaningless everything we do can seem at the end of the day. Many scenes venture into hilarious antics as Evelyn travels through different universes that give the movie lots of levity. For example, one sequence portrays a universe where humans have hot dogs as fingers. These scenes don’t exist solely to provide laughs—they also drive home the idea that a life lived to the fullest is one where emotions are unsuppressed and we embrace just how weird everything around us is. Without these scenes that bring the humor up to exaggerated degrees, the juxtaposing emotional scenes later in the film wouldn’t hit as hard. Ultimately, the existential themes and clear vision that the Daniels bring to the project provide a through-line that brings everything together perfectly.
Through it all—the infinite universes and the infinite possibilities of life—we only have each other. Before our time is up, Everything Everywhere All at Once reminds us to hug one another when we can, to bring positivity and joy around us when all else seems to fail, to laugh and cry and dance and sing and do everything we want to do in our lifetimes. And most of all, to share in the collective experience of wondering what the fuck is going on in this universe, while doing everything we can to make it feel like home.
Matt Minton is a first-year writing for film, TV and emerging media and writing major who’s that friend that always has a movie to recommend for the next movie night. They can be reached at [email protected].
Art by Julia Young.