The end result is somewhere between Wes Anderson and David Lynch, which can be good or bad depending on one’s point of view.
Written and Directed by Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinart
Starring Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong, Jamie Lee Curtis
Everything Everywhere All at Once is the followup to the surprisingly good Swiss Army Man. The team of Daniels attempt to top each other and even Marvel with this mashup of parallel universes. The end result is somewhere between Wes Anderson and David Lynch, which can be good or bad depending on one’s point of view.
Yeoh gives the performance of a lifetime as Chinese-American wife Evelyn Wang, who co-owns a laundromat with her husband Waymond (Quan). They have a daughter Joy (Hau) who struggles with her identity as a lesbian. This is partially due to the haunting presence of Evelyn’s aging but still judgemental father, called Gong Gong for the Cantonese word for Grandfather. Her husband is normally happy, but recent struggles have led him to file for divorce.
The crux of the story begins to take shape in an IRS office, where Evelyn and her husband are attempting to get through an audit led by Diedre (Curtis). In the midst of this, she is contacted by an alternate (Alpha) version of her husband, and then the lunacy begins.
This review will not delve into the story details. There are many seemingly divergent scenes that all play together eventually. Suffice to say the splintering effect works for the most part. There is a malevolent force, an all consuming bagel and at it’s core, true unhappiness. If you have time for all of the splinters and enjoy seeing it all brought back together, you will enjoy this film more than this viewer.
It’s easy to enjoy Yeoh’s performance for the incredible range she displays. She acts the hell out of this movie and it should lead to something good for an already wonderful career. Quay, Hsu and Hong are also excellently cast and portrayed.
Almost everything outside of their performances is overwrought and underdeveloped. Curtis may have enjoyed going so over the top, but her IRS agent halts the momentum of the story almost every moment she is on screen. Add to this ridiculous segments where fighters require somthing shoved up their rectum in order to combat Evelyn and one might think the film is just an excuse for an exercise in fetishism.
Overall, this film goes a long way to show how love an peace are required to combat disappointment with ourselves and how we parent. The message is a good one, but not sure it required the universe being split in so many directions to establish the point. So far the film is a critical darling. It may require subsequent viewings to establish if the story is more than or less than the sum of its parts.
(*** out of *****)