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Everything Everywhere All at Once

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from Indiewire:

Multiverses are so hot right now. And why shouldn’t they be? At a time when people can’t even look at their phones without being confronted by a seemingly infinite number of competing realities — a time which everything seems close enough to touch, but almost nothing feels possible to change, and even the happiest people you know are haunted by the endless possibilities of who else they might have been — telling a story that only takes place on a single plane of existence might as well be an act of denial.

That isn’t a problem for the filmmaking duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (better known as Daniels), who once created an interactive six-minute short that could be played in 3,618,502,788,666,131,106,986,593,281,521,497,120,414,687,020,801,267,626, 233,049,500,247,285,301,248 different ways. These guys aren’t just uniquely prepared to meet the present moment, they’ve been waiting for it to catch up with them for a long time. So it’s not much of a surprise that the project they’ve been working on since 2016’s “Swiss Army Man” sees the crisis of living with “Everything Everywhere All at Once” more clearly than any other movie like it.

Not that there are any other movies like it. Here is an orgiastic work of slaphappy genius that doesn’t operate like a narrative film so much as a particle accelerator — or maybe a cosmic washing machine — that two psychotic 12-year-olds designed in the hopes of reconciling the anxiety of what our lives could be with the beauty of what they are. It’s a machine powered by the greatest performance that Michelle Yeoh has ever given, pumped full of the zaniest martial arts battles that Stephen Chow has never shot, and soaked through with the kind of “anything goes” spirit that’s only supposed to be on TV these days.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is as overstuffed as its title implies, even more juvenile than its pedigree suggests, and so creatively unbound from the minute it starts that it makes Daniels’ previous efforts seem like they were made with Bressonian restraint by comparison (for context, their last feature was a sweet fable starring Harry Potter as an explosively farting corpse). It’s a movie that I saw twice just to make sure I hadn’t completely hallucinated it the first time around, and one that I will soon be seeing a third time for the same reason. I don’t ever expect to understand how it was (or got) made, but I already know that it works. And I know that it works because my impulse to pick on its imperfections and wonder how it might’ve been different eventually forfeits to the utter miracle of its existence.

It’s a movie… about a flustered Chinese-American woman trying to finish her taxes. Evelyn Wang (Yeoh) is being audited — first by the IRS, and then by the other great evils of our multiverse. She and her stubbornly guileless husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan, a sublime revelation in one of his first major roles since the days of Short Round) immigrated to California in pursuit of happiness after Evelyn’s overbearing father, Gong Gong (James Hong, 93 years old and yet still in his prime) forbid the marriage, but their dreams of a brighter future were soon quashed by the realities of running a small business and raising a child of their own.

The spectrum of women who Evelyn imagined she might become grew smaller every day, the possibilities burning away like joss paper until the proprietress of a failing laundromat was the only person left in the ashes. Now Evelyn’s life consists of wincing her way through racist micro-aggressions at work and beyond, peeling off the googly eyes that Waymond sticks everywhere to make objects seem happier, and acting as narrow-minded towards her lesbian daughter Joy (an inter-dimensionally great Stephanie Hsu in what should be a star-making performance) as her own father was towards her. Every parent wants what’s best for their children, but even the ones who should know better can delude themselves into thinking they know what that is. The more faith you have in someone’s potential, the harder it can be to recognize how they’re achieving it.

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WHAT

new movie

WHEN

opens March 25, 2022

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