Everything Everywhere All At Once Is a Paragon of Filmmaking
It probably isn't fair to compare Everything Everywhere All At Once, which cost independent studio A24 $25 million to make, with Disney's $200 million Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Never mind that both films focus on parallel universes and that the plot revolves around a powerful, magical entity that threatens all of existence. Never mind that both films are love letters to mothers everywhere and that both came out in 2022. It isn't fair to compare the two because, really, the Marvel blockbuster just doesn't stand a chance.
Directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as The Daniels, do much, much more with much, much less than the big budget Multiverse of Madness or pretty much any other film about multiverses. Or any other film about anything at all, for that matter.
The story can be extremely confusing at the start, par for the course when an ordinary person like Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) is told they need to save all of reality by a parallel universe version of her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) inside a broom closet while simultaneously being educated in the intricacies of tax filings about fifty feet away. Did that sentence make any sense? Don't worry, it will.
Just like the entire film, everything eventually clicks. That's the beauty of Everything Everywhere All At Once. Despite the chaos, despite being set in multiple universes and featuring multiple versions of the same characters, despite having multiple subplots, everything comes together perfectly.
It is what films aspire to be but rarely are, a film that's virtually perfect from start to finish, elevating every aspect of the craft.
That's a remarkable feat considering that this is a film that features googly eyes, animatronic animals, butt plug kung fu, sentient rocks, and reality-consuming bread. There are very few films that have the courage to be this bonkers. But not only does it make complete sense, it also has a solid emotional core.
The story revolves around Evelyn, a Chinese-American laundromat owner whose strained relationships with her lesbian daughter (Stephanie Hsu), a mild-mannered husband who's secretly filed for divorce, and doddering, almost senile father (James Hong) are essentially her universe. It's a dreary existence that's upended by a visit from Alpha Waymond from the Alpha Universe, who warns her that Jobu Tupaki, a near-omnipotent reality-warping entity, is coming after her.
It's an exhilarating roller coaster ride of a film that's divided into three parts, the Daniels masterfully balancing quite literally everything to deliver a story that's funny, touching, action-packed, and philosophically resonant and existential, sometimes all at once.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is a paragon of filmmaking. It is what films aspire to be but rarely are, a film that's virtually perfect from start to finish, elevating every aspect of the craft. The acting is superb, with each actor playing different iterations of their characters; the editing is brilliant, seamlessly stitching together scenes from a multitude of universes; the music and sound design are wonderful, capturing every mood and conveying every emotion; the script is solid, with equal parts of humor and drama. It is pure joy.
The familial relationships are relatable and real, with love and loneliness that cuts across an infinitude of universes and which the Daniels serve up in a most delightful cinematic plate. It is generational trauma told from a multiversal lens, with Evelyn untangling her relationships with her parent and child as her husband supports her from the sidelines.
It is arguably one of the most incredible films ever made.
It's a love story, necessarily, because what else do we have in the face of total oblivion but unrelenting love? Everything Everywhere All At Once is suffused with so much love that it turns a sentiment about laundry and taxes into the most romantic line of 2022. There’s just so much crammed into its 140-minute runtime that it’s practically impossible to absorb it all properly in one sitting. It’s the kind of film that stays with you long after you’ve left the theater, inviting discussion and analysis. You’ll be talking about sausage fingers, raccoons, fabulous outfit changes, and the concept of an all-consuming bagel.
With nods to Wong Kar Wai, Stanley Kubrick, Brad Bird, and the long history Hong Kong wuxia, Everything Everywhere All At Once is also a love letter to film. It’s a long homage to all the great cinema that has come before it, and it’s utterly glorious. Rarely has a film managed to be as utterly absurd as it is profound. It is arguably one of the most incredible films ever made and if you were to watch only one movie in 2022, it should be this film. In fact, if you could watch only ten films in your life, this should be one of them.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is now showing in cinemas nationwide in the Philippines.