Everything Everywhere All At Once
Rating: * ½
The Screen Actors Guild Awards love this film. But what is there to love in this hot mess?
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert the co-directors of this….this….what is this???!!! The co-directors like to be known as the Daniels. It wouldn’t be wrong to say the Daniels have come to judgement in this shrieking freak of a film where multiverses collide in a vertiginous chaos.
Be warned from the outset: this is not a film for the weak at heart. It is a swirling belching cauldron of multiverse mayhem, more sinful than sinned against, it reflects a team of minds perched on the edge of chaos trying hard to not topple over. But for me, this is a work that truly topples over the precipice into the abyss of creative chaos.
Michelle Yeoh who hands-down is the best Chinese actor in cinema,plays a Chinese-American laundromat owner with enough problems to make Mother India look like a socialite from The Fabulous Lives Of Bollywood Wives , and yes, that’s quite an imaginative jump. But not one that this absurdist drama would be loath to make.
Everything Everywhere All At Once operates on the level of heightened dementia. It starts of fairly well, though symptoms of a gathering sickness are discernible early on in the way camera flops itself into the middle of conversations creating disembodied images of immigrants who are either eating something that doesn’t agree with them or smoking something that agrees too well with them.
To begin with Michelle Yeoh’s Evelyn Quan Wang has to deal with a senile father,estranged husband and a lesbian daughter and her partner.This is the scriptwriters’ cue to unleash a mutinous macrocosmic multi-dimensional universe where anything is possible, and that includes the strangest of mindbending images like everyone’s fingers turning into hotdogs and Evelyn’s daughter Joy(Stephanie Hsu) walloping her mother with jumbo-sized plastic penises.
Wait. Don’t go away. We are only beginning to warm to the various multiverses which Evelyn and her loved ones occupy . Most of the avatars are deeply hostile and violent .They leave us the audience in a state of heightened agitation. For those who constantly look for logic coherence and consistency in their cinematic experience , Everything Everywhere All At Once is hell’s kitchen dishing out one indigestible yucky gooey dish after another.
In no time at all ,the entire mayhem of a misbegotten multiverse unravels in front of our bewildered disbelieving eyes. This is a film that may stimulate and sicken your senses with its pagan parody of an anarchic universe, replete with women who use their pets cats as a bola to beat the grit out of their enemies.
This a universe where chaos reigns supreme and the characters behave as if they are in a nightmare built on the premise of feverish absurdity.Michelle Yeoh seems to enjoy the deep-dive into a swirling pool of dementia. But my favourite performance comes from the irrepressible Jamie Lee Curtis as a relentless IRS official. Watch out for an actress of Indian origin Sunita Mani who features in a romantic film that Evelyn loves to watch.
This is an experience unlike anything we’ve seen before. But then, so was Covid.