The incredible Michelle Yeoh toplines as Evelyn Wang, a Chinese-American immigrant and laundromat owner who, while being audited by the IRS, discovers that she must connect with different versions of herself from parallel universes in order to prevent the destruction of them all by an evil entity known as Jobu Tupaki. That’s a dramatic oversimplification of the plot, which also has Evelyn grappling with her daughter’s sexual orientation, learning of her husband’s petition for divorce, and stressing over the arrival of her judgmental father (the legendary James Hong) from China. Looming over all of it is frumpy, humorless IRS inspector Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis), who warns of foreclosure and repossession due to Evelyn’s woeful mismanagement of the business’ taxes.
In her many verse jumps, Evelyn sees how her life would have turned out having made a single different choice. In one, she’s a glamorous martial arts movie star who encounters a sophisticated version of a Waymond she left and never married—one who now rejects her. In another, she’s a lesbian married to Dierdre, in a bizarre world where humans have hot dogs for fingers and play the piano with their toes. In yet another, she and Joy are merely two rocks with googly eyes living on the edge of a cliff. Daniels excel at creating madcap, boundary-pushing dreamscapes within these multiple realities existing at once within the known realm of time and space.
Within their evocative and cacophonous labyrinth of storytelling, the directors employ an anything-goes audacity—a swirling cyclone of fertile ideas and heady concepts—and straddle the worlds of science fiction, comedy, drama, action, and martial arts. The nearly two-and-a-half-hour film moves at a frenetic pace, with nonstop martial-arts action and in-your-face slapstick that allow for no bathroom breaks. (Word to the wise: Only buy the small soda and sip judiciously). Despite the complexity of their convoluted plot, Daniels admirably keep things surprisingly coherent—even the technobabble makes sense.
Somewhere between death and taxes are beautiful moments—and these brief snippets of time are what make life worth living. This is the essence of Everything Everywhere All at Once and Daniels—aided immeasurably by Yeoh and their ensemble—employ an unmatched artistic aptitude in bringing their vision to whimsical, technicolor life. It’s a masterclass in filmmaking that will enthrall you with its exquisitely choreographed martial arts sequences before bringing tears to your eyes with the weight of its profound questions and truths about life. Unlike anything you’ve seen before, Everything Everywhere All at Once is destined to be a classic, an amalgamation of genre anarchy that defies classification, subverts expectations, and explores existential matters with empathy and insight. This marvelously unhinged slice of cinematic maximalism is nothing short of a work of art—and not to be missed.
Just let go—and let Yeoh.