Everything Everywhere All At Once: Film Review
I was in Philadelphia, taking a day off after an intense four-day east coast shoot. Filmmaking can be exhausting, despite it being a career that I’m always grateful for.
In this tired state, I walked into the Philadelphia Film Center, the small arts theater where Philadelphian film buffs could see their intendent and foreign films. I was a huge Michelle Yeoh fan so I chose Everything Everywhere All At Once. I bought a ticket and my popcorn and waited for the lights to go down, hoping I wouldn’t fall asleep during the movie.
Little did I know that watching this new genre-bending mishmash would inspire and re-ignite my love of filmmaking. Everything Everywhere All At Once is my favorite film of the year.
It’s ostensibly a story about Evelyn Wong, played by Michelle Yeo, a middle-aged laundromat owner who finds herself a Neo-like figure in the middle of a cosmic battle between infinite universes. For much of the film, my mouth was agape at this bizarre and delightful mix of genres — sci-fi, action, horror, comedy, family drama, foreign film and Kung Fu epic.
“What the hell am I watching”, I murmured to myself, more than once through the film. But by the end, I was smiling so much my face hurt. Everything Everywhere All At Once’s multiverse conceit allowed it to throw everything and the kitchen sink at the audience, always staying one step ahead of the viewer. But unlike Marvel’s big-budget “multiverse”, which is heavily GC and green screen reliant, Everything’s directors The Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) utilize a charming in-camera special effects aesthetic, akin to Michael Gondry’s work in his music videos and his classic feature, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Just when you think you had their film figured out, the Daniels threw another curve ball. The kid from The Goonies, Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? He's in there, playing Evelyn Wong’s good hearted but downtrodden husband, Waymond Wong. A Wong Kar Wai In The Mood For Love homage? It’s in there. A universe swallowing giant Bagel that represents ultimate Nihilism? Yep. A bizarre riff on Pixar’s Ratatouille? It’s in there too.
But despite all the genre bending, there’s just so much stuff to love about this film. Kick ass kung fu sequences. A heartfelt mother-daughter story. A redemptive love story arc. A transcendent and multi-faceted Michelle Yeo performance.
I walked out the theater, energized and inspired. The whole film was a two hour dopamine rush. I fell in love with filmmaking again. Everything Everywhere All At Once is currently in wide release. If you’re a fan of bold and wildly entertaining filmmaking, go see this film. It deserves all of it's Oscar nominations.
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