Film

Yep, ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ Really Is As Good As They Say

Prepare to have your mind blown.

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The first thing that you need to know about Everything Everywhere All At Once is that it’s best to see it knowing as little as possible about what you’re in for. So, if you can, do that.

But if you want to read on, here’s what you should know. In their latest feature following the cult hit Swiss Army Man, directing team ‘the Daniels’ outdo themselves in absurdity, violence, charm, and above all, heart.

Everything Everywhere All At Once stars Malaysian screen legend, Michelle Yeoh, as Evelyn. On the verge of divorce, estrangement from her daughter, and the seizure of her laundromat by the tax office, Evelyn’s world seems chaotic enough. But when a stranger lends her the ability to connect with alternate versions of herself across the multiverse, she learns what true chaos really is, and how she may even have to harness it to defeat the darkness spreading across all reality.

That’s as much as I’m willing to give away in terms of plot, but rest assured the film weaves a tale far wilder. Not wild like a crude irreverent comedy, either. Wild as in the kind of limitless unhindered story one imagines as a kid, lovingly stuffed with genre-bending sequences, gross hilarious jokes, unlikely heroes, bombastic villains, kick-ass fistfights, movie references, and genuine heartbreak.

It’s a mix that might sound messy on paper, but director-writers Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert helm a multiverse traversing tapestry that puts the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s recent attempts to shame. With grand setpieces, wholly unique food-inspired existential threats, and destined-to-be-iconic costume design, the film is dazzling. Its outstandingly sharp quick-fire editing transports both Evelyn and the viewer between multiverses with breathtaking ambition and accuracy. So, the film achieves a sort-of infinite all-consuming omniscience, helped along by a momentous score from experimental pop musos, Son Lux. Every inch, every shot, every sound of Everything Everywhere All At Once establishes itself as a new kind of epic that refuses to be denied by the senses.

The Daniels know who their audience is too. Sci-fi and geekery references abound throughout the film, taking a handful of cues from outer-body traversing epics like Sense8, The Matrix, The OA. They also feature perhaps the most disturbingly hilarious reference to Ratatoullie ever put to screen. For the cinephiles out there, Everything Everywhere finds time to break your heart too with stunning references to In The Mood For Love, and Paprika. None of these references are self-aggrandising either, nor there for the sake of gesturing to something better. No, they are there as loving homages that flesh out the Daniels’ vision, adding flare and familiarity to their fantastical fairytale. Because, more than anything, Everything Everywhere All At Once is a film for lovers of film, for those who love stories and grew up wishing they could be a part of every single one they could find.

Containing such multitudes as it does, it’s nothing short of impressive how this film is carried on the shoulders of only a handful of actors. But with cultural juggernauts and rising stars like Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, and James Hong as the family at the film’s heart, the responsibility is easily shouldered. It’s the kind of chemistry that only happens in a genuinely trailblazing movie like this one where everyone is electric, excited to play their parts. Even as the film cheekily draws on Yeoh’s own sweeping career in some truly meta sequences, Yeoh’s turn as Evelyn remains the film’s bewildered, battered, and determined beating heart. Her grounded performance is what quite literally grounds the viewer as we’re catapulted through increasingly unhinged universes.

Finally, I’d be remiss as a film gay to not tip my hat to the mother-daughter queer acceptance story at the film’s core. As if Everything Everywhere All At Once didn’t already feel like a movie plucked from my wildest fever dreams, complete with multiverses and Michelle Yeoh as an ass-kicking hero, there’s a truly touching queer narrative too. It’s a queer plotline that kindly, and with the utmost respect and humour, touches on the conflicts that arise from being the openly queer adult-child of an immigrant parent.

But perhaps the best part about Everything Everywhere All At Once is that it’s a story with an end. Unlike every second blockbuster out there, it doesn’t exist to tease a larger cinematic universe, franchise, or sequel. The Daniels’ modern epic is a fairytale with an absurd beginning, an exhilarating middle, and a heartfelt end. A film that won’t leave you wanting more because it’s left everything on the table and it’s possibly the most filling cinematic feast of the year. Ultimately if you’re a movie-lover who fervently disagrees with the notion that less is more, this is the film for you.


Merryana Salem (they/them) is a proud Wonnarua and Lebanese–Australian writer, critic, teacher and podcaster on most social media as @akajustmerry

Everything Everywhere All At Once is in cinemas now.