Everything Everywhere All at Once

Review by Rich Cline | 4.5/5   MUST must see SEE

Everything Everywhere All at Once
dir-scr Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
prd Anthony Russo, Joe Russo, Mike Larocca, Jonathan Wang
with Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, James Hong, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tallie Medel, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr, Biff Wiff, Sunita Mani, Aaron Lazar, Brian Le, Andy Le
release US 25.Mar.22,
UK 13.May.22
22/US 2h19

hong curtis slate

42nd Shadows Awards
Michelle Yeoh

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hsu, yeoh and quan
Rocketing at top speed, this frenzied thriller grips the audience with a comically bonkers premise involving alternate realities. And the filmmakers, Daniels Kwan and Scheinert, deepen themes to dig beneath the lively surface, examining possibilities while honing in on key relationships. This makes the central narrative startlingly resonant. So while this is one of the most intensely action-packed movies in recent memory, it's also sharply moving. And even beautiful.
In middle-age, Evelyn (Yeoh) has a breakneck life, running a laundry with her husband Waymond (Quan), taking care of her cantankerous elderly father Gong Gong (Hong), struggling to connect with her teen daughter Joy (Hsu) and fending off tax auditor Deirdre (Curtis). Then reality begins to fragment around her, and an alternate Waymond propels her into a mind-expanding situation in which she accesses parallel versions of herself to find skills to face a variety of terrifying foes, all while trying to track down the evil Jobu Tupaki, who wants to destroy all of her realities.
Gleefully, the plot gets more complicated by the minute. To each new wrinkle, Evelyn replies, "This makes no sense!" But she's forced to dive into the outrageous conflicts and learn on the run. Fight scenes are spectacularly choreographed to reveal her personality, as cameras spiral around the action, continually catching tiny details and witty gags. It's so fast-paced that we feel like we're right inside the storm, working things out along with Evelyn. And after various twists and turns, the final act is simply stunning.

It's rare to see such a frenetic action movie that takes time to expand its characters this profoundly, using interaction with others as well as surreal journeys into themselves. The gifted Yeoh is simply wonderful, playfully riffing on her fight-movie past as Evelyn discovers new skills. And her emotional odyssey has real power, offering unusually strong supporting roles for Hsu, Quan and Hong, plus a riotously against-type Curtis. Each has fun with their characters' various versions while maintaining a core honesty.

At the centre is the story of a woman who has never quite made sense of her tumultuous relationships with her father, husband and daughter. Each one is nuanced, with a variety of textures provided in flickering flashbacks. And the Asian subculture adds bristling context. So even as we're dazzled by this inventive and often literally breathtaking action choreography, we're constantly being pulled deeper into our own feelings. And what we discover is revelatory.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 27.Apr.22

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© 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall