Going into Everything Everywhere All at Once, I did not expect myself to walk out emotionally wrecked. Through their clever use of the multiverse, the two Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) have created a reality completely different from ours but with a beating heart at its centre.
Everything Everywhere All at Once lives up to its title. It is a chaotic right from its first frame, setting a relentless pace and giving its viewers no time to get a grasp of what is happening. The confusing mix of 3 languages makes it worse. It is a frenzied mess, much like the disarray of human emotions that the film later seeks to untangle.
In the age of the internet we are bombarded with information at an unprecedented level. It is easy to feel lost in the midst of it all. Everything Everywhere All at Once explores this feeling of being overwhelmed by literally experiencing everything everywhere all at once. It is tiring, it is exhausting, and it lulls you into a sense of nihilism. You feel the characters’ frustration and hopelessness. But by the end of it, the film has filled you with optimistic nihilism – nothing matters, and so we have the freedom to choose what matters most to us.
Michelle Yeoh delivers a career best performance. Much like Evelyn’s different lives in the multiverse, one almost feels like Yeoh is drawing from her past performances from a stunningly diverse career spanning almost 4 decades (in fact, a montage of Evelyn’s lives features clips of Michelle Yeoh from different roles she has played throughout her life).
Everything Everywhere All at Once is riddled with conflicts between the characters. Evelyn is going through a rough patch in all her relationships – her father is still disappointed with her, her husband wants a divorce, and she hasn’t come to terms with her daughter’s sexuality. Topping it all off is the confusing mess with the IRS. We have all felt similarly at some point in our lives. The film advocates a simple approach – be kind and approach everything with love, especially when nothing makes sense.