Does EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE deserve the general acclaim and acclaim it receives? In tune with its time, filled with sincere tributes, the film by Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan is already prefiguring itself as a cult work.
Upon release in March 2022, EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE aroused enthusiasm in the United States. With over $68.9 million in US box office receipts, it has become one of the highest-grossing films of the post-Covid era. And its success has continued to grow since its arrival in European cinemas. A triumph certainly attributable to his pessimistic statement, echoing the current socio-economic context, but punctuated by a note of hope that concludes his incredible story. But people need hope. Especially in these troubled times.
Crazy Poor Asians
The story, precisely, struggles to be summed up in a few words. It is anchored, at the start, in a pathetic and cynical realism, where we discover a mother of Chinese origin bogged down in a daily life without joy or flavor. Owner of a laundry in the United States, she seems encumbered by her husband, as by her father, and weighs down on her daughter the weight of her own education, rigid and without tenderness. Far from her usual warrior roles, Michelle Yeoh camped here a failure, with the course composed only of failures.
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE thus sheds light on the Chinese-American community, the disappointed dreams of emigration to the New World and the shackles of a culture that has nevertheless become distant. The family unit seems folded in on itself, in a dark apartment above the laundry room. With, for only opening on the outside, a visit to the tax office, symbol of a cold and sprawling administration… Where a Jamie Lee Curtis grandiose, also against the grain, plays an overweight and cantankerous collector.
Michelle VS Jamie Lee
In this context comes the fantastic. Sci-fi comedy between indie production and formula blockbuster, EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE travel Michelle Yeoh between parallel dimensions, where she borrows different abilities from her alter-egos… Whose existences turn out to be more flourishing than her own. Enthroned savior of humanity, she glimpses what she could have been. A martial arts champion actress (here you go), a lesbian in love, a brilliant scientist, a stone. A reflection is then woven on the laughable nature of our lives, parts of a whole and ultimately, so little.
The fantastic serves here as a pretext for parody. Of science fiction, but also of a certain Asian cinema – sometimes mainstream, in the evocation of martial arts films, and sometimes cinephile, in reference to romantic and intimate Japanese and Hong Kong works. A tailor-made suit for Michelle Yeoh, so. Used just as wisely, Jamie Lee Curtis preserves her image as a strong and unshakable woman, which she knew how to build from the mid-80s, by extricating herself from her roles as an eternal victim of horror films. And it is with undisguised pleasure that we see it transform into a sort of boogeywoman haphazard carnivore of a leap between dimensions.
Feminine and universal
This flamboyant comic aspect compensates for the rendering sometimes cheap visual effects of the film, certainly attributable to the budget of 25 million dollars – a trifle, compared to the 170 million of a Top Gun 2: Maverick. This shortcoming, however, does not prevent EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE to develop a strong aesthetic, full of ambition and creativity in its mix of genres and references. Moreover, if he seizes recurring problems of the current cinema, he includes them with intelligence and sincerity in his scenario. Indeed, the film makes a touching statement about the pressures exerted on middle-aged women and highlights the sisterhood that binds them despite everything – regardless of their origin or social status.
But EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE lingers above all on motherhood, in its less obvious and less charming aspect – something rare on screen. He may be blamed for a somewhat silly message: “If we are not much, we might as well refocus on the essentials”. However, he addresses it with a sprawling reflection in a rich entertainment, as funny as it is moving. Thereby, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – otherwise known as the “Daniels” – sign a film anchored in its time, but with a timeless content. All this with a real aesthetic bias, dear to A24 productions, to whom we owe Under the silver lake of David Robert Mitchell, Midsommar ofAri Aster Where X of Ti West. A new stone to an already cult building.
• Original title : Everything everywhere all at once
• Achievement : Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan
• Script : Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan
• Main actors : Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis
• Release date : August 31, 2022
• Duration : 2h19min