A review of the new film “Everything Everywhere All At Once”

I’ve been viewing films on a regular basis for some six decades and have clocked up almost 3,000 in that time. This particular one must be a strong candidate for the most weird and wonderful work that I’ve seen.

The title itself is marvellous, up there with “Doctor Strange In The Madness Of The Multiverse” and, like that Marvel movie, the storyline is based on the notion that our universe is simply one of a multitude. The dialogue is in English, Mandarin and Cantonese so expect a fair amount of subtitling.

The film begins with this universe which is inhabited by a Chinese-American laundrette owner Evelyn Wang (splendidly portrayed in an endless series of facets by the incomparable Michelle Yeoh from “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Crazy Rich Asians”) who has problems with her father (James Hong), her husband (Ke Huy Quan whom we first saw in “The Goonies”), her gay daughter (Stephanie Hsu), and her tax auditor (Jamie Lee Curtis as you’ve never seen her).

But, in no time at all, we are “verse jumping” as we bounce from one universe to another. To suggest that the pacing is utterly frenetic is a serious understatement. And the journey introduces us to a kaleidoscope of bizarre imagery from a world where people have hotdogs for fingers to another where rocks talk to one another and, along the way, fights involving weapons as varied as dildos and butt plugs.

So who can we thank for this wild ride? The two writers and directors are Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, known collectively as “Daniels”. They began their career as directors of music videos, which has clearly influenced what is only their second feature film. As well as half the writing and directing team being Chinese-American, so are four of the five leading actors and ultimately this is a very Asian story of a oriental family adjusting to a new western world – like “The Farewell” which I loved so much.

But what does the dizzying narrative actually mean? I’m really not sure, but I choose to see the message that, if there really are multitudes of universes out there, there’s a lot to be said for the one in which we find ourself (double meaning intended).


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