Film review by Jason Day of Everything Everywhere All at Once, the ‘manyverse’ action comedy about a woman travelling between alternate realities. Starring Michelle Yeo and Stephanie Hsu and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert.
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Chinese immigrant and laundromat owner Evelyn Wong (Michelle Yeoh) is swept up in an insane adventure, where she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led.
Review, by @Reelreviewer
The universe is so much bigger than you realize.Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) sums everything up.
I’ve postulated for weeks about how to approach my review of this ‘manyverse’ spectacular.
How to choose the right words to express what I saw, heard and felt during this cinematic ‘onslaught’, words that could do justice to the ingenuity and daring of the filmmakers. After all, they do lob at us:
- A multitude of karate fights, including one between burly security guards and a young woman fending them off with huge dildos.
- Two men determined to ‘enter the next level’ by engaging in butt plug seeking acrobatics.
- Jamie Lee Curtis as a psychotic Inland Revenue officer who – in another ‘manyverse’ life doubles as Michelle Yeoh’s lesbian lover…the two have with huge, hot dog shaped fingers.
- Yappy Pomeranian dogs used as aerial assault weapons.
- A scene of silence as two of the characters – as mute stones – argue via subtitles.
Suffice to say this film does what it says on tin – it covers anything and everyone you could imagine, at any point in time or location and all in one production.
I’ve given it 5/5 stars* because, fair’s fair to writers/directors Kwan and Scheinert, they cover huge terrain but their movie never for once feels like they lose control of the complicated narrative.
The devices of using a hands-free digital phone earpiece for ‘manyverse’ ‘players’ to switch between levels/worlds and rigid, expensive-looking production design tropes are smart moves that help you keep track on where you are placedm, aided by spiffing, whizz-bangtastic special effects.
Hats off to them as well for making that ‘mute stones’ scene funny and moving as Evelyn and her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu).
This clear direction and writing of place and moment also mean the cast also knows where they are heading and we have supremely funny and shocking performances.
Michelle Yeo has earned her stripes as an all-action Bond girl (Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997) and martial arts epics (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2000). But a dowdy, launderette-owning, middle-aged woman? This isn’t someone you’d associate this glamorous actress with playing but this might be the role of a lifetime for her as she makes Evelyn so thrilling as she comes into her own after a lifetime of emotional fails and drudgery.
Her surprising co-stars include Ke Huy Quan as her husband (as a kid he played Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) and Curtis as the portly IR bod out to get her and stalks/loves Evelyn in various guises through the manyverse.
*Not everyone agrees with my star rating. At the screening I attended, a group of women got up and left during the dildo fight. Imagine what they’d have thought of the butt plug trophies scene!
See the official trailer for more (link correct at time of publication).
Cast & credits
Directors: Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. A24/AGBO Production/Hotdog Hands/IAC Films/Ley Line/Entertainment/Year of The Rat. (15).
Producers: Dan Kwan, Mike Larocca, Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, Daniel Scheinert, Jonathan Wang.
Writers: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert.
Camera: Larkin Seiple.
Music: Son Lux.
Sets: Jason Kisvarday.
Michelle Yeo, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, James Hong, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tallie Medel, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., Biff Whiff, Sunita Mani, Aaron Lazar, Brian Le, Andy Le, Narayana Cabral.