Everything Everywhere All At Once and the meaning of life
A week ago, we went to see Everything Everywhere All At Once, the second feature film by Daniels- Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert-, and we can tell you now, we loved it.
After the success in 2016 of “Swiss Army Man”, there was quite a bit of expectation around this new film. So, after achieving great success in the United States following its premiere at the South by Southwest (SXSW)festival, it has done the same in Spain and has completely exceeded any expectations there were.
Life in the multiverse
The film begins showing the slightly disastrous life of a Chinese American family that runs a launderette and also has problems with its tax declaration.
Stress and chaos take over their lives and it looks like they are doomed to failure…Its leading characters are Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan – many of you will recognise him from parts in 80s movies like “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “The Goonies”), their daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) and Gong Gong (james Hong), the grandfather.
They all form part of this deteriorating situation, where the frustration of each family member becomes the trigger for a series of adventures, that are apparently absurd but that have a very profound significance that aims straight for the heart.
The chosen one in the multiverse
In this madness of layers and layers of universes, where time splits, multiplies and is recomposed to create dozens of alternative realities, Evelyn is the “chosen one” to avoid the final debacle. And we loved that, because the Daniels didn’t go for the obvious choice. Not a superheroine with the appearance of a superheroine, but the complete opposite. In this case, she is a normal woman that becomes the only person capable of saving this compendium of universes.
Additionally, during this whole process in which Evelyn discovers and manages to believe in her destiny, we are taught revealing life lessons and other lessons that we need to remember. Because her vulnerability, her fears and failures allow us to see that crises, both those of the world as well as our existential ones, are opportunities. In order to do so, they appeal to their meaning in Chinese, where this word is formed by two characters. The first is Wei, that means danger and the second one is Ji, which means opportunity. Because, although Evelyn initially resists and cannot see past her beliefs and prejudice, the multiverses and their perils manage to bring her out of her mental constraints and make her more receptive to understanding the true meaning of life.
Absurdness and lucidity
As you will see, the film achieves a perfect balance between what is derived from the Wang family’s interpersonal relationships and the, at times ridiculous, madness of the multiple multiverses.
There are really crazy, irreverent moments that knock you out. A thousand things happen and the melting pot of realities can be overwhelming at times but thanks to the editing work of Paul Rogers, the photography by Larkin Seiple, the wardrobe by Shirley Kurata, the production design by Jason Kisvarday and, of course, the screenwriting and direction of Daniels, the film does not only maintain the spectators interest at all times but manages to plunge us into this surrealist psychotic, extravagant, visual game for the 139 minutes that is the duration of the film.
“EEAA combines science fiction, comedy, action, fantasy, adventure, metaphysics and psychology to perfection.”
A glorious and delirious film
Yes, yes, it is delirious and glorious. Both adjectives define well what you will see on the big screen. Because all that delirium and artifice are necessary to understand the message of the tape. In fact, it behaves like a great wave that makes you swallow a large amount of water, and amidst being tossed about, it brings about a precise clarity with which to separate the wheat from the chaff and realise what is truly important.
That said, the combat, the laughter, the scatological jokes, the mad action scenes, the thousand and one disguises, etc… The whole cocktail is essential to reset the minds of the characters, and our own mind, welcoming the essence of our own existence.
“When I choose to see the good in things… I am not being naïve. It is strategic and necessary. It is how I have learnt to survive through everything (…) I don’t know. I only know that we have to be kind… specially when we don’t know what is going on.”
We simply cannot but recommend it. It will blow your mind and you will spend days talking about it! Check screening times.
The best part…
– The excellent cast: Michelle Yeoh, the main actor, is in good company with James Hong, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu y Jamie Lee Curtis, among others. There is excellent complicity amongst them all.
– It has a daring, intelligent, unpredictable and really fun script.
– Everything Everywhere All At Once is like going round a theme park, but mentally in this case. Multiple adventures take place that trigger different experiences, all of them great lessons in life.
– Guaranteed laughter.
– The dialogue in the scene with the two rocks…
– Its premise about the meaning of life, its very accurate portrait of intergenerational traumas (worth framing) and how it values empathy, in a world like ours, where selfishness and helplessness make things very difficult.
The worst part…
– We found it was a bit long but it’s true that the end is drawn out a little more than necessary.
– In its most delirious moments, the film comes close to being incomprehensible and sometimes confusing.