Hong Kong poster for Everything Everywhere All At Once
Everything Everywhere All At Once (U.S.A., 2022)
- Daniels (i.e., Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), directors, scriptwriters and producers
- Starring: Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, James Hong, Jamie Lee Curtis
Several months ago, I viewed the trailer for an American independent movie that I thought looked pretty insane. Since then, I've tried very hard not to read too much or view any interviews with the stars and/or directors of Everything Everywhere All At Once because, very early on, word got out that this was a "must see" movie best seen "cold". And after viewing this film, I would heartily concur that this absolutely outstanding as well as thoroughly unusual cinematic offering from the outstanding directing (and scriptwriting) duo collectively billed as Daniels is best viewed without knowing much about what its plot entails.
Consequently, this review will reveal very little about the movie's plot. At the same time, I want to write about this super entertaining film because, among other things, I want to share how much it left me gobsmacked, in a good way, and that, more than 48 hours after viewing Everything Everywhere All At Once, my brain is still trying to process what I saw, heard and experienced over the course of the 140 minute length effort!
Put another way: it's been eons since my mind was this blown away by a movie's creativity and originality. Ditto re it having been a long time since I viewed a film and felt like I really didn't know where its story was going and how it would end right up until its final minute or so. Ditto re it having been ages since I viewed a movie that so very seamlessly switched genres (in this case: action; sci-fi; comedy; drama; romance) and from one multiverse to another and yet others (yes, this is a film that involves characters occupying multiple -- and often incredibly different -- multiverses).
At the right, left and center of this film which also touched my heart and had me shedding tears on more than one occasion is Evelyn Wang, the multilingual (English, Mandarin and Cantonese) American immigrant character brilliantly portrayed by Michelle Yeoh. Just a few months ago, I was telling a friend that I was growing tired of watching the Malaysian actress I first saw as an action star playing dignified doyens and elegant establishment figures like the women she essayed in Crazy Rich Asians (2018) and The Lady (2011) and as far back as The Soong Sisters (1997). And while we do get glimpses of that in this movie, one of the joys of Everything Everywhere All At Once is that its lead actress is called upon to do so much more, and shows that she is well able to do so.
Although he doesn't get as much screentime in this movie as Yeoh, lead actor Ke Huy Quan also has plenty of opportunities to showcase his talents. And so good (too) is he in his role as Waymond Wang, Evelyn's better half in certain key ways, that it really is a shock to learn that that this actor, whose first two film appearances were in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom (1984) and The Goonies (1985), had not had a starring role in a movie for decades prior to appearing in Everything Everywhere All At Once (and, in fact, only returned to acting after being inspired to do so by seeing the success of Crazy Rich Asians).
Not that Ke Huy Quan had not been entirely out of show business in that time. Rather, he had ended up working more behind the camera, including as assistant director to Wong Kar Wai on 2046 (2004). Speaking of which: Everything Everywhere All At Once has a scene whose aesthetics appear to have been inspired by Wong Kar Wai. And, in general, I can't help but be convinced that at least one of the Daniels, if not both of them, are major Hong Kong movie fans; because I can see the influence of not only Wong Kar Wai but also wacky mo lei tau comedies along with the multi-/trans-genre, "everything but the kitchen sink" and "let's go on an emotional rollercoaster ride" tendencies of classic 1980s and 1990s Hong Kong cinema in this made-in-America movie.
Two other elements of Everything Everywhere All At Once that remind me of the movies that rekindled my love for Hong Kong cinema back in the 1990s are that the film very much benefits from having: a great ensemble cast (with relative newcomer Stephanie Hsu admirably holding her own against, and along, the likes of Yeoh, Quan, veteran actor James Hong and Hollywood royalty in the form of Jamie Lee Curtis); and incredible editing (courtesy of Paul Rogers). I know it's early days still but I will be shocked when come awards season next year, many members of this remarkable film's crew and cast don't cop nominations, and maybe even wins, too! At the very least, it sure did capture my heart as well as mind; not least by possessing so much soul as well as offering up so much incredible invention and imagination.
My rating for this film: 9.5