You’ve never seen anything like “Everything Everywhere At Once”. The hyperbole may have been trivialized in recent years, but it’s real when it comes to the film signed by the Daniels.
Few times has cinema promoted such a vibrant attack on the senses. Rarely has a wild concept been executed in an explosion of creativity as intense as it is surprising. For those looking for originality, it is a true feast.
The film also explores the concept of the multiverse. I know, it’s the narrative tool of the day, from “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” to “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” to “Rick and Morty” and, come on, “Lightyear.”
In the Daniels’ view, however, the idea of crossing parallel realities does not exist solely to expand the dramatic possibilities. It is an ingredient for a story that seeks, in addition to stimulating the senses, emotional and philosophical impact.
All this wrapped up in the story of a micro entrepreneur, a mother of a family who, in the midst of a conflict with her declaration of income tax, discovers that she is the only one capable of preventing a very powerful entity from causing the implosion of all universes. To do so, she needs to acquire new abilities by connecting with versions of herself in parallel universes.
“Everything, Everywhere, at the Same Time” is not, however, a sci-fi adventure marked by spectacular fight scenes (although it is all that too).
The intention of the Daniels – directors and writers Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – is to explore a drama about ordinary people thrown into an extraordinary situation.
For this, his ambition is no less than contemplating the very meaning of life. It’s the dilemma posed in front of Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh, in a transformative role). She faces a lackluster marriage, a shabby business and a gay daughter (Stephanie Hsu, a revelation) she can’t seem to talk to. Oh, and she needs to get right with the taxman, represented by a Jamie Lee Curtis who’s never been better.
The question in your mind mirrors a question that everyone – me, you, your neighbor, the baker – has already asked: What if I had made different decisions at different times in my life?
In the Daniels’ concept, each choice results in a different branch in the fabric of the universe. Right or left, up or down, yes or no. Every moment that we advance our existence, somewhere, on another plane, another version of ourselves takes a different path.
It’s a fascinating concept, solidified when Evelyn is confronted by her husband, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan, Indiana Jones’ sidekick in “Temple of Doom,” Data from “The Goonies,” back in front of the camera), a passive subject who is “taken over” by the consciousness of another version of himself, more self-confident, coming from a reality taken by chaos.
That’s when Evelyn, still reluctant, sees the multiverse open to her. The maneuver works for her to absorb abilities from “other” Evelyns from parallel worlds, which will give her power to face Jobu Tupaki, the entity that seeks to collapse the multiverse on itself.
When facing other versions of herself – as an opera singer, a chef or a martial artist who is also a successful actress – Evelyn questions her own decisions and considers a life different from her own. Abandoning the plan also means the victory of Jobu Topaki.
Executing these ideas out of the box shows what happens when a studio, in this case the independent A24, has complete trust in the filmmakers and supports each of their creative decisions, no matter how absurd they may sound.
The result makes “Everything Everywhere at the Same Time” a tapestry of genres. It can be a science fiction adventure marked by spectacular fight scenes.
But it’s also an anarchic comedy, a melodrama about a broken family. Even an experimental narrative about two stones dialoguing in silence on an arid planet or a lesbian romance in a world where our fingers are sausages (!).
It has the spirit of Hong Kong martial arts movies. At the same time, it manages to mimic the romantic spirit of Wong Kar-Wai’s cinema. It’s a jigsaw puzzle of pieces that shouldn’t even fit together. It is a unique, funny, exciting and strangely moving work.
“Everything Everywhere At The Same Time” will inhabit your thoughts for a long time. I continue digesting each piece of the film, already looking forward to new doses. I leave the task of deciphering this Daniels masterpiece to someone smarter than I am. For now, feeling is enough.