Film review: Everything Everywhere All at Once
The multiverse is back in this divisive cult hit
In the US and elsewhere, the critics have swooned over Everything Everywhere All at Once. So it was “disconcerting” to find it a bit of a dud – “frantically hyperactive” and also rather dull, said Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. The veteran action star Michelle Yeoh plays Evelyn, a downtrodden Chinese immigrant to the US who runs a “scuzzy” laundromat with her dopey husband (Ke Huy Quan). But just as a tax audit threatens to make her life yet tougher, she discovers that there are a host of alternate realities in which her life has turned out better: in one of the worlds she visits, she is a martial arts expert; in another she’s a movie star. The entire multiverse is in peril, however, and only Evelyn can save it. It sounds fun and there are some “nice gags”, but the film boils down to a “mad succession of consequence-free events”, which goes at such a clip you never care about the characters. I found it “a formless splurge of Nothing Nowhere Over a Long Period of Time”.
It’s not perfect, said Tom Shone in The Sunday Times. It does feel messy, “overstuffed and a trifle exhausting” – but it’s also “exhilarating, funny and moving”. Admittedly, the multiverse idea is hardly new: it was taken for a spin in Marvel’s most recent Doctor Strange movie; but this film has “a gajillion times” more warmth and wit, and is made by two writer-directors who seem to be fizzing with creativity, at a time when cinema feels “starved of fresh ideas”.
“You could keep tallying the pros and cons” of this sci-fi comedy all day, said Tim Robey in The Daily Telegraph. The fact is, I have rarely felt more “impaled on the fence by a film” because, “exactly as promised, it’s everything at once – good and not good; fresh yet still a formula; cramped, strenuous, full to the brim”.