- Valerie Fang
Everything Everywhere all at Once: An Overview
Note: No spoilers until the last section!
Introduction to the film
Everything Everywhere All At Once (’Everything’) **is a film that will sweep you off your feet. The film holds true to its name, presenting the multifaceted life of its central character, Evelyn.
The story is simple. It revolves around Evelyn’s day-to-day tasks. Just like anybody else, Evelyn takes on multiple roles: a laundromat owner, a wife, a mother and a daughter. However, her mundane life takes a turn by the daunting task of defeating an all-knowing, all-seeing villain in order to save the universe. Sounds crazy, no?
From the action-packed trailer, we can see that the film promises to be fast-paced. Evelyn, played by Michelle Yeoh, will be visiting the multiple universes (’multiverse’) in her journey to tackle daily life tasks and fight the ultimate enemy. Her world gets shattered as she courses through the multiverse with different identities.
The film is not limited to any genre. Besides the action and fantasy elements we see above, other genres of comedy, absurdist, horror, romance, and drama are also involved. Similar to the extensive genres, the film also covers a range of themes, from family love to the meaning of life. For a film with such an interesting concept, its production crew is equally unique.
Everything is produced by ABGO and Ley Line Entertainment. Subsequently, they are distributed to the theatres by A24, another production company. The film is a joint effort of these independent production companies. As there isn’t backing from any major film studios, the film is considered to be an indie film with little budget.
It also has two directors, who are addressed as Daniels (Both of their first names are ‘Daniel’). The 2022 film is their second attempt at directing feature-length films, after directing Swiss Army Man in 2016. Like many indie films, it was first released in a film festival, known as South by Southwest.
Source: LA Times
With production companies that are not part of the Big Five, and directors with little repute, it seemed like the film would not be gaining traction when it is released.
Fun Fact: Did you know that this film was also edited entirely on Adobe Premiere Pro? It sounded unbelievable to me, but this was indeed revealed by the film’s editor in an interview. The myriad of transitions, animations and sound effects needed for the film were all rendered into a single editing application. Kudos to the production team!
With the above factors working against them, the film faced the huge risk of getting by unnoticed. So it was surprising for it to receive an 8.6/10 score on IMDb and 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. Numerous film critics have also praised the film for its visuals and storytelling on movie review sites. The film is also going to break A24’s box office record!
What you’d get out of this film
The attention that the film has gotten is very well-deserved. The team has illustrated the multiverse with endless imagination. Accomplished it all with a limited budget! The film, with a runtime of 2.5 hours, also comes with great pacing. It gives us enough time to explore the multiverse while allowing us to focus on the primary (albeit simple) plot of Evelyn’s family. As a film comprising of a mixture of genres, you would definitely leave the movie theatre with laughter and tears.
Now, let’s take an even closer look at the film and what it has to offer.
NOTE: SPOILERS FROM THIS SECTION ONWARDS
The directors are ambitious. For a film with a simple plot, Everything has managed to illustrate its key messages through its individual characters.
For instance, Evelyn is characterised to be an independent and stubborn woman. She struggles with integrating into the American society as a Chinese immigrant. In addition, she also has difficulty reconciling with her family members: her husband Waymond, her daughter Joy and her father Gong Gong. Eventually, the relationship with each family member teaches her (and by extension, teaches the audience) invaluable life lessons.
One of the main themes explored in the film is nihilism, i.e. “Nothing matters”. This idea is brought about by the multiverse villain, Jobu Tupaki (i.e., alternate universe Joy) and Evelyn gets exposed to such philosophy. While the topic is abstract, Evelyn gets to understand this perspective via Jobu Tupaki’s actions. We then also get to see how characters interact with this philosophy: How should we face life now that nothing we do matters?
Along with nihilism, the theme of family love also underpins the entire film. Despite the huge gaps in the values that each generation holds, each family member continues to express their love towards each other, albeit in their own way. The strained mother-daughter relationship between Evelyn and Joy serves as the key reason to introduce the multiverse. Travelling through the most bizarre universes, the two challenges each other’s standpoints until they eventually open up. The concentrated and complete depiction of a mother-daughter relationship was relatable and touching!
It is challenging to encapsulate what the film has shown me. There are so much more to be said! I can go on and on and this would become a 3000-word article…. The film has been in theatres for more than a month but there are still some screenings. Go and experience the film yourself soon!