Updated: Apr 28
If the latest project from filmmaking duo Daniels proves anything, it is that cinema is very much still alive and thriving. Quite frankly, this wouldn’t be possible without minds such as theirs. Following up 2016’s Swiss Army Man is no simple feat, but to seemingly quadruple down on the bold innovation that film brought forth is a miracle in and of itself. In reality though, the duo makes it abundantly clear that first and foremost, they love all things film. With Everything Everywhere All At Once, the Daniels essentially handed the world a massive love letter that spans the multiverse. A love letter to what exactly? Just about every conceivable theme you could possibly imagine. From the trials of generational trauma and immigration to the pressure of nihilistic thinking versus looking at the world in a nurturing manner, this film feels packed to the brim in a myriad of ways. It is a film that cannot work without a deep dedication to the messages within, a full commitment from everybody on screen, and an innate understanding of the medium of cinema from all those tirelessly working behind the scenes. So leave it to the Daniels to be able to wrangle all these moving parts together into something so genuine, so unique, so absurdly brilliant that it will leave you speechless in your seat as you wipe tears from your eyes and your jaw hurts from laughing so hard.
Everything Everywhere All At Once feels like nothing short of a miracle. It’s not necessarily a surprise that the film works, but rather, it’s genuinely impressive just how well everything fits into the larger narrative. It’s visually stunning, reveling in uncut takes of action from the superstars that are Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan. It features dialogue ranging from ultra-witty to soul crushingly painful, shot with a visual flair that ensures you never miss a syllable. The clear cinematic inspirations range from The Matrix to In The Mood For Love and countless wuxia films, alongside a slew of other genres. As stated earlier, this film could not be made my somebody who doesn’t absolutely adore cinema; and this duo wears the badge right on their chests. Not a single second of this film feels ordinary or phoned in. On the contrary, it feels like every hyper-specific moment has been planned out to elicit the maximum level of emotion. It’s the cinematic equivalent of watching Leonardo da Vinci map out each brushstroke of the Mona Lisa before committing paint to canvas. In other words, it becomes apparent fairly early on that this film is a bonafide classic long before we get to witness the stunning final product. Everything Everywhere All At Once feels like a privilege to experience with others in a dark, loud theater, yet it’s also a film that feels necessary and crucial to be releasing at this very moment in time.
It’s not much of a stretch to say that the world this film is releasing in is an incredibly bleak one, and one that shows no signs of slowing down. Life is anything but easy, and the fragility of life becoming more apparent only makes us feel smaller as humans in the grand scope of the cosmos. And while the Daniels show off their vision that could only be derived from a brain not of this universe, they make it clear that they too suffer from these thoughts all humans succumb to. The Daniels make it acutely aware there are many ways to address these types of thoughts, with some being far more destructive than others. And sometimes, we can be a bit too hard on ourselves and let them overcome us; We feel we have to go through everything alone. For a world so connected by social media and limitless technological potential, to be human feels a bit fractured at the moment. Yet just when you may think the Daniels and these characters have no choice but to also succumb to the defeating nature of time and existence, Everything Everywhere All At Once proves its necessity. It displays levels of emotional maturity and sincerity that will absolutely stun viewers, if only when looking back at the zany, unfathomable heights this film reaches prior to its emotional catharsis. Yes, this is a fun multiversal romp that is jam packed with larger-than-life ideas, but at its core, this is a profoundly touching film that emphasizes true human connection in a microcosm of a family.
It’s almost difficult to express just how much is really going on in this film. The Daniels waste no time in throwing the audience directly into the lunacy of the multiverse alongside Yeoh. As she grapples with all that’s occurring across multiple lives, there are very few moments of slowing down. It’s a necessary choice to continue moving forward, and feels almost like an allegory for life itself. Existence is chaos, and we are left with little time to sit down and parse out how exactly the choices we make will affect us in the long run. Even in the few moments of genuine serenity, the Daniels are able to mask genuine existentialism in the form of a joke and vice versa. When looking at the pacing for a film so stuffed with ideas, the forward momentum is truly marvelous and works wonders. And by the finale, as tears will inevitably begin forming, it’s apparent that the Daniels pull off getting you deeply invested in the family dynamic that is essential to the film. That the most grand idea in existence could be used as a vessel for a simple and beautiful tale about a family piecing themselves back together is inspirational.
With Everything Everywhere All At Once, something as simple as a shared hug can feel as impactful as planets colliding. Stories being told across multiverses boil down to the same set of problems we all face. As Jamie Lee Curtis’ Deirdre points out, she can see a whole story that maps out to nothing among receipts. While it’s played for sardonic humor, it rings painfully true for many, just like the overarching antagonism of the film. The Daniels never minimize these problems and they can hit with the impact of freight trains, yet the film never holds itself in a grim world for too long. In a breathtaking return to film, Quan’s Waymond is the balance essential not just to the arc of the film, but to the conundrum of life itself. The Waymond’s of the world are considered naive and easily belittled or written off, but it’s a true shame and the Daniels recognize this calamity. The way they craft this character, layered on a performance that should be praised for years to come, truly feels like an essential message for every human. To put it lightly, the Daniels have crafted something that challenges everything a film can be. Furthermore, they have spread an essential message alongside a riotously entertaining and distinctly original piece of art. If we had to present aliens with one example of all that humanity can achieve, show them Everything Everywhere All At Once on a silver platter.
A24 has released Everything Everywhere All At Once in select theaters now and will be opening on a wide release starting April 8th.