Multitasking in co-ordinated chaos, Evelyn Wang is running her launderette, organising receipts for an appointment with a hostile IRS auditor, preparing for her elderly father’s birthday party and negotiating with her daughter Joy who wants “Gong Gong” to meet her girlfriend Becky; barely coping as things stand, her husband Waymond is preparing to hit her with divorce papers, while another version of him from a parallel universe is depending on her to save the world, all the worlds.
Written and directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as “Daniels,” it is perhaps indicative of an underlying cosmic synchronicity that Everything Everywhere All At Once should be released so closely to Doctor Strange’s own encounter with the Multiverse of Madness, yet while both are linked by a common underlying themes as is the nature of the endless possibility expressing itself in every iteration the end results are very different.
Evelyn exhausted and frustrated by what life has presented her, disappointed at all she has failed to do despite constant effort on behalf of her family and her customers, never good enough in the eyes of traditional father whom she feels rejected her for being born a girl, “verse jumping” is both terrifying and tempting, the chance to abandon all that holds her back and become something new, unencumbered by her past, unable to do worse than where she is now.
Starring Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn in all her versions, she is told “You are capable of anything because you are so bad at everything,” both a dismissal of her achievements and a challenge for her to rise to, stepping outside of her defining role as housewife and becoming a martial arts expert, a celebrated chef, a world-famous movie star, yet in all these universes it is motherhood with which she struggles.
The multiverse threatened by “the bagel of truth” created by an individual known as Jobu Tupaki, she is the Alphaverse manifestation of Evelyn’s own daughter Joy (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings’ Stephanie Hsu), infinitely powerful and well-versed in all the universes and bored with it all, always seeking but never finding, more like her mother than she wishes to admit in all the wrong ways, blaming herself when she is unable to find meaning in the endless shifting chaos.
Flawlessly conceived, designed, choreographed and edited, as absurdist, surreal and fantastic as Dave Made a Maze but always grounded in the humanity and pain of the characters, Evelyn, Joy, Waymond (The Goonies’ Ke Huy Quan), auditor Dierdre (Halloween’s Jamie Lee Curtis) and Gong Gong (Big Trouble in Little China’s James Hong), Everything Everywhere All At Once is exactly what the title suggests, a jump through a shattered mirror where every fragment reflects a sliver of a greater whole which can only be pieced back together by accepting that nothing will ever be perfect.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is currently on general release