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Everything Everywhere All At Once: A visually riveting deep-dive into the liberation of nihilism in a modern world

"A screaming, vibrant symphony of surreality, drama and comedy": Daniels’ latest cinematic venture can only be described as a brain-melting, heart-wrenching marvel.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

There is a lot to be said about Everything Everywhere All At Once. It is a film that conveys far more than it's even remotely possible to discuss in a 500-word review.

One would be hard pressed to think of a film that seamlessly manages to treat themes such as family trauma, depression and restlessness with the same earnest intensity as paying taxes or fighting an evil, multiversal demon who’s using your daughter as a host and still successfully emotionally engages the viewer.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The trailer reveals very little of this film; merely a kaleidoscopic collage of visual chaos and seemingly unrelated snippets of Evelyn Wang’s (Michelle Yeoh) many lives. This is 100% the best way to represent this film to an unfamiliar market.

In its core, Daniels’ film explores the liberation of nihilism. It is a film that embraces the sheer meaninglessness of human existence. This is not in an existential ‘let’s give up’ way; quite the opposite.

Everything is a rousing cry to let go of ‘what ifs’, to live and to love freely. It doesn’t matter what path you choose. Life will always be messy, be painful and be uncomfortable. It will always mean nothing in the end. And when it means nothing, you are free to make your life mean anything and everything you desire.

The film centres on Evelyn Wang, a middle-aged mother living in America. Her husband irritates her and she fails to connect with and understand her daughter, Joy. She owns a laundromat business and is continually in hot water with the IRS, hilariously represented by the talented film veteran Jamie Lee Curtis.

Evelyn believes her life has come to nothing. She regrets nearly every decision she’s made and is trying to do everything and be everywhere all at once to keep her stressful life together. That is until, during a particularly awful IRS meeting, she learns she can move between her alternative universes.

Thus begins some of the most visually entertaining and compelling filmmaking seen this year.

Daniels’ uses of mind-bending visual effects often aim to disorient the viewer. It is stunning in parts, hilarious in others and even sometimes downright uncomfortable. It is extremely pragmatic filmmaking, with each shot containing so much energy and movement that the viewer is catapulted right into the eye of Evelyn’s reality-crashing storm. The combination of the mundane and the fantastical result in surreal imagery such as a kung fu battle in an office or a loving couple playing the piano with their feet.

The randomness of life is encapsulated perfectly in Everything, as the serious and nonsensical collide. It touches on every issue of the human condition at once: race, class, gender, sexuality and age etc.

It means everything and thus nothing. It doesn’t matter what choices are made, whether you leave home, stay with your husband or have hot dogs for fingers. The infinite possibilities of choice render all decisions ultimately meaningless.

Thus, you have the freedom to do whatever you choose, only to always connect with other humans also stuck trying to navigate the tangled mess of existence.

Beyond the rich visuals and philosophical explorations, the film contains some satisfyingly choreographed martial arts sequences and witty dialogue. It pays homage to a plethora of genres and delights us with its deviations. Daniels’ has brought elements from nearly all forms of cinema and combined them into a screaming, vibrant symphony of surreality, drama and comedy.

It is truly a film that tries to be everything, everywhere, all at once, and succeeds.

Learn more

Everything Everywhere All at Once is at The Showroom this week.

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