Everything Everywhere All at Once ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
An aging Chinese immigrant is swept up in an insane adventure, where she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led. Out in cinemas from next week.
Trying to describe this Everything everywhere all at once is not an easy task, mainly because it doesn’t belong to any category nor does it stick to any of the normal rules we’ve grown to accept when watching a film.
The simple fact that it’s labelled as an action, adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, experimental and martial art film, tells you everyone you need to know. In fact I think it touches a couple of more genres too.
On the surface it’s story about an unremarkable Chinese middle-aged woman on the verge of a divorce, working in a launderette (actually we’re in America, so I should probably call it “Laundromat”), who’s suddenly sucked up (figuratively and literally) into an insane (and I do not use this term loosely) adventure. She’ll have to save the world by exploring other parallel universes and connecting with the lives she could have led.
But aside from this simple synopsis, I don’t think anything can prepare you for the kind of assault on the sense that this film is going to have on you. Even if you’ve seen the previous film by directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, The Swiss Army Man, in which Daniel Radcliffe played a farting corpse (yes, you’ve heard right), you’re still miles away from true exuberant and energetic madness of this one.
This is a film that is so full of imagination, eye-popping ideas and verve that at times I wondered whether anyone making it was sober or even drug-free.
The idea of multi-verse seems a pretty hot topic in cinema these days: since 2018 when Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse received universal acclaim among critics and audiences alike and with Spider-Man No Way Home, breaking all box office records and the latest Doctor Strange just about to be released in cinemas, there is certainly a lot of hunger, especially among the young crowds and comic-lovers, for stories taking place across parallel universes.
As well as the latest multiverse Marvel adventures there are also echoes from The Matrix and Scott Pilgrim vs the world, but while this film shares a lot with of that comic-like sensibility, it’s clearly more interested in exploring the idea of multiverse as a way to tackle more humanistic themes.
The film is really about finding and accepting ourselves, it’s about family, about regrets and, without sounding too pompous, it’s basically about the real meaning of life and the fact that it’s OK to be a mess.
With such deep themes running throughout, which I’m sure will resonate with many, it’s a shame the film itself feels the need to be as messy as the characters it’s trying to portray.
And while I really liked the performance by Michelle Yeoh and was pleased to see Ke Huy Quan returning to the screen so many years after The Goonies and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, I can’t help feeling that the stupidity of the some of the more “over-the-top” moments (people having to impale themselves with pointy objects in order to switch universes, or people with sausages instead of fingers, just to mention a couple of examples) and the frenetic pace of the editing and the film in general, not only wore me down and made it all feel a bit repetitive, despite the huge arrays of ideas on display, but also diluted all the good things on offer.
In this end this was an exhausting experience, which unfortunately overwhelmed the heartfelt message at its core. I wish I had loved it more than I did.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick
Everything everywhere all at once is out in cinemas from next week.
See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali
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