I’ll never forget where I was when I saw Lana and Lilly Wachowski’s genre-busting The Matrix for the first time nearly 20 years ago. The seamless marriage of heady science-fiction concepts with tech-defining stunts and action set pieces glued me to my seat. By the time Keanu Reeves downloaded enough Kung Fu to ward off Laurence Fishburne, you knew that cinema would never be the same afterwards. The game had changed.
That feeling is pretty rare, but I experienced it again last night watching Everything Everywhere All At Once, the latest film from Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinart (collectively billed as The Daniels), at the 2022 SXSW Film Festival. What a perfect time for this rowdy festival to once again gather together in person to celebrate unique brands of unpredictably creative storytelling such as what’s on display in Everything Everywhere. The film is an exhilarating avalanche of imagination and heat that analyzes the smallest choices we make in life, asks massive questions about the point of existence, and ultimately recognizes that every decision a parent makes is geared toward doing what’s best for our children.
It’s a masterpiece.
It’s also a spectacular sprint through the concept of the Multiverse, as laundry shop owner Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) discovers – during a routine trip to the IRS for an audit with an intimidating tax collector – that there are endless universes existing simultaneously that feature “Evelyns” created by decisions made by Evelyn over the course of time. In one, for example, she’s a celebrated singer. In another, she studied martial arts and is now a famous action movie star. The laundry Evelyn, a no-funny-business worker bee of a woman, can’t understand what any of this has to do with her. But before she’s able to protest, an alternate version of her doting husband (an excellent Ke Huy Quan) pulls her into a Multiversal battle to save the souls of every Evelyn… and the fabric of all mankind.
Marvel Studios has made the concept of the Multiverse more relatable lately, thanks to its use in TV shows like Loki or the massive blockbuster Spider-Man: No Way Home. Mainstream audiences better understand how slightly different versions of one character could appear in a timeline because they have stepped through a multiverse. Even having that awareness, it’s awe-inspiring how seamlessly The Daniels flow their narrative through countless iterations of Evelyns on the roller coaster journey they have established. There are helpful visual cues that point out when we are switching personalities on screen, and the co-directors use everything from costuming and set design to simply the versatility of the cast to inform us of where we are in the linear narrative of the timeline. And to the Daniels’ credit, you never once get lost… despite the fact that the script throws you into a Tilt-a-Whirl and rarely stops spinning.
So much credit goes to Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and a mesmerizing Stephanie Hsu playing Eleanor, Evelyn’s daughter (and a pivotal character in the plot). They all trade out personalities and noticeable quirks with the ease of someone swapping out an article of clothing, allowing the pace and flow of Everything Everywhere All At Once to stay glued to a track as it motors along. The technical wizardry on display in this movie can and will be dissected for years, but when you look past the production and bury into the heart of the film’s many philosophical discussions about life choices, parental mistakes, the challenges of maintaining a marriage, and the power of the IRS, you realize that Everything Everywhere really does give audiences everywhere Everything they could possibly be looking for in a sci-fi comedy thriller. SXSW couldn’t have picked a better Opening Night movie, and Everything Everywhere couldn’t have chosen a better festival at which to make its premiere.
A24 releases Everything Everywhere All At Once on March 25. Our coverage of the South By Southwest Film Festival rolls on all week, so keep it here on CinemaBlend for the latest reactions.
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
Thank you for signing up to CinemaBlend. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.