Filmmaking duo Daniels are back with another silly yet profoundly emotional tale of companionship and kindness above all else
Very often in my life, I worry that I am too much. I worry that I care too much, I worry that I talk too much, I worry that I worry too much. I worry it affects everyone around me, all the time, that maybe it would be better if I was a little less. I think this is a worry a lot of people have, but it’s the kind of worry that feels silly to admit until somebody else does it first and you can make them feel a little less alone by finally confessing, yeah, everything, starting with me, is too much too much of the time.
If this doesn’t make sense, Everything Everywhere All At Once might not find you in the right place. It is a maximalist multiverse romp, trying to be all things to all people by telling a story of one specific Chinese-American family. Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) is looking to save her disintegrating marriage, take care of her laundromat, understand her queer daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu), and – once and for all – do her taxes properly. She has so much to shoulder and no help to carry it. And then just like that, she’s also suddenly tasked with saving life as we know it as an omnipotent multiverse-jumping superhero.
Written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (better known as Daniels), the film shares many similarities with their previous feature Swiss Army Man. That film was, in a lot of ways, very stupid: a story about a farting corpse being carted around by a lonely man on the verge of taking his own life. But it was also an emotional and hopeful story of the lifesaving power of companionship.
Everything Everywhere All At Once features dildo fights, hot dog fingers, nihilistic bagels, countless bejewelled costume changes and even a Ratatouille riff. It doesn’t all work, and it’s probably not supposed to – but the megawatt ambition (manifesting in lightning-sharp choreography and innovative visual effects) is powerful enough for a message of kindness, patience, and unconditional love to shine through.
Its multiverses feel closer to The Matrix Resurrections than Doctor Strange. Those comparisons matter, in a world where everything is possible and the choices you make can either be led by passion, bravery and the clarity only grief provides, or by money and franchise legacy. Each serves its purpose, but this film goes beyond both approaches.
Everything tells a story of untapped potential and unspoken regret. Yeoh is incandescent as Evelyn, trying so hard to prove herself wrong and harness the strength she can find to take care of those she will love until the world ends. Hsu is a revelation as Joy and her evil alter ego Jobu Tupaki, in her mastery of nihilism and mania and loneliness through the smallest mournful stares. She telegraphs the pain of a young queer woman feeling trapped. The fear of an immigrant daughter worried about disappointing her parents. The fear that she might just be unlovable.
She, and Yeoh, convey the feeling of being just too tired to give love, and being so close to giving up on it all because you don’t even know where to begin to make it better. And then there’s Ke Huy Quan, giving the greatest comeback performance of the 21st century so far, showing everyone the compassion they’ve been gasping for, something so simple and everlasting to hold onto with every fibre of your being because it’s the only thing you can count on.
They say the only two certainties in this life are death and taxes, an idiom Daniels clearly know and furiously fight back against. They do so in ways earnest, blindingly silly and strong. Love is a sure thing. The kind of irrational, unshakeable, embarrassing, painful, incredible thing you can’t believe is real until it finds a way to wipe out the overwhelming amount of things taking up space and hurting your brain and heart. This kind of love, the love of Everything Everywhere All At Once, keeps faith that somehow, in all of this, it is – and we all are – enough.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is released in UK cinemas from 13 May.Where to watch