I almost feel that I cannot write this review. What I saw at the cinema was beyond my powers of description. Michelle Yeoh, James Hong, Stephanie Hsu and Jamie Lee Curtis are a powerhouse team. Evelyn (Yeoh) is juggling so many aspects of 21st Century living, while losing touch with her daughter (Hsu) and becoming estranged from her husband (Hong).
Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) is trying to complete her tax audit, throw a Chinese New Year party to impress her father (James Hong), navigate a possible divorce and avoid alienating daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu). She’s also the last hope of the multiverse — tasked with fighting an evil entity threatening to destroy, well, everything. Empire
The first scenes of the film set out the difficulty of Evelyn’s situation. She ignores her husband who is filing for divorce, she has estranged her lesbian daughter, she is terrified of disappointing her father and worse, she must face Jamie Lee Curtis who plays a phenomenal role as a very physical tax auditor called Deirdre Beaubeirdra. Incidentally, Deidre has won multiple awards for her steadfastness. The shape of the award itself will not be described on this blog. From there, a version of her husband from a parallel universe (the Alphaverse, don’t you know), explains to her that a great evil is coming (Jobu Tupaki “an agent of pure chaos”)and that she was the only one who could save the world. He opens her mind to a multitude of alternative universes where she can be whatever she wants to be: a chef, a martial art star, and a famous actress. From the point where her Alphaverse husband passes her a note ending in “don’t forget to breathe”, the film takes off.
Evelyn must Verse jump to learn and use skills from her alternative selves and take on the forces of Jobu Tupaki. What follows are some of the wildest, most inventive, mind blowing fight scenes I have ever seen. There are so many things I have never seen in film before, and some things I hope never to see again (an alternative universe where Evelyn and Deirdre are lovers, with hotdogs for hands, for one).
It is thunderously cinematic, revelling in the simplicity of filmmaking’s most basic tools, while deploying them to their maximum potential. And it is brilliantly performed — Stephanie Hsu is revelatory as the multifaceted Joy; Quan is astonishing in his cinematic comeback, an action master who’ll make your heart explode too; Jamie Lee Curtis has a blast exaggerating the monstrous physicality of a no-bullshit tax officer; and Yeoh is perfection, drawing on every skill from every role she’s ever played to bring Evelyn’s many lives to life. Empire
The backbone of this extraordinary and sensory overloading film is that this is a family story. At its heart is a mother trying to re-connect with her daughter and husband, having allowed the noise of modern life to get in the way of what matters. There is a very touching scene where one of the universes visited saw Evelyn and Joy as two rocks, perched above a beautiful canyon. They are discussing the meaning of life and wondering whether they will discover some greater truth which will make them feel like “even smaller pieces of sh*t”. This film is about acceptance and it is wild in its portrayal of filial and parental duty. I shall leave Empire to have the final word, as their eloquence is something to which I can only aspire:
A pure firework display of technical bravado, wild invention, emotional storytelling, comedic genius, action mastery and outstanding performances, Everything Everywhere All At Once is everything cinema was invented for. Empire