Review | Chaos reigns in ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’

Everything Everywhere All At Once | Dir: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert | ★ ★ ★ ★ 

The premise of this film is quite simple. Evelyn is a middle-aged Chinese American woman (Michelle Yeoh) who has an extremely chaotic life. Living next to the laundromat she runs with her husband Waymond who wants a divorce (Ke Huy Quan), she is looking after her father Gong Gon (James Hong) and having battles with her lesbian daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu).

Evelyn is exhausted as the not very successful business spills over into the messy apartment and everything, everywhere is absolutely chaotic. In the middle of all this clutter and chaos, Evelyn is at the dining table, trying to sort out a huge pile of paper receipts because she has an appointment for a tax audit at the IRS.

Sitting in front of the foreboding overweight IRS agent Deirdre Beaubeirdra (hilariously deadpan and demonic Jamie Lee Curtis), Evelyn’s chair suddenly accelerates backwards and her world explodes. She finds herself in the multiple alternatives of her life with the only constant being her battle with Jobu Tupaki (her daughter in other universes).

The directors are not scientists but the Chaos Theory finds underlying patterns is systems that were thought to be completely random. Multi-universes are usually inhabited by superheroes, with the occasional exception made for exploring romances or lives gone wrong. In many ways, Evelyn is the superhero holding everything together and she needs to discover her multiple superpowers so that she resolve all of her life’s problems.

Drawing on Michelle Yeoh’s background in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Evelyn is an action movie star; in a loving relationship with IRS agent Deirdre (with the silly addition of sausages for fingers… what was that about?) or a rock on the edge of a cliff (just for a bit of light relief).

The film has such a good premise and the editing is magnificent to bring together the multiple chaoses, but I found it undisciplined and an overly long onslaught of visual and philosophical ideas. The costumes and the premises become annoyingly more and more outlandish as the audience is drawn into the madness of this quirky film.

Lezly Herbert

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