The production of this film was shrouded in mystery. So much so that prior to its release, the IMDb synopsis simply read “a woman tries to do her taxes.” And that description wasn’t too far off, because at the center of this utterly wacky adventure is a human story about the lives of Chinese immigrants in America and the trials and tribulations of filing taxes.
everything everywhere at once stars Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan as an immigrant couple who make ends meet with their laundry business in shambles. Her daughter, played by Stephanie Hsu, lives a silent rebellion as she struggles to reconcile her two national identities. Her home life is portrayed with honesty and excellent camera work, as she takes the audience from the messy little kitchen where a steaming rice cooker steams, to the busy laundromat with her eccentric residents. Dialogue quickly flips between English, Cantonese, and Mandarin, creating a sense of brain fog that is just the tip of the iceberg.
The story quickly changes from a family portrait to a (pardon my French) wacky Scott Pilgrim-esque adventure. The audience, like Yeoh’s Evelyn, is expected to follow the rules of the movie without any warning or instruction. Multiversal journeys and mind-blowing action sequences follow one another, in a story where seemingly anything is possible: that includes a prize in the form of a butt plug as a key plot point, hotdogs for fingers, and lots of googly eyes.
I won’t reveal what happens next: partly so you can enjoy the surprise, partly because there are no words to describe it. In short, “everything” happens “everywhere”, “all at once”. The sheer insanity of the film ranges from charming to exhausting. It’s a fun and wild ride, but it ultimately touches on questions of life philosophy, kindness, and cynicism. In the face of adversity, disappointment and defeat, is ignorance true bliss or is it worth fighting on?
From a technical standpoint, the visual effects, cinematography, and sound are stellar. Every shot is carefully constructed, making the film an absolutely stunning work of art. I wouldn’t be surprised if everything everywhere sweeps the technical categories in the upcoming awards season. However, viewer discretion is advised – flashing images abound.
Yes doctor strange in the multiverse of madness I leave you wanting more, I highly recommend watching everything everywhere at once in cinema – IMAX, preferably. It has a lot more multiverse and a lot more craziness.