Eloise at the Movies
Our resident reviewer, Eloise, delves into the good, bad, wild, and weird—from new films to classics.
All movies reviewed are available to loan from the library catalogue.
Please keep an eye on the film ratings (listed below) when choosing films.
Everything, Everywhere, All At Once
Directed by Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Starring Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong, and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Release dates 11 March 2022 (SXSW), 25 march 2022 (United States)
Running time 139 minutes
Rated MA 15+ contains strong violence and crude sexual humour
Multiverse adventures are the new time-travel story, where the consequences of the past and the possibilities of the future create chaos and confusion in the present moment. Everything, Everywhere, All at Once is an Academy Award winner that adapts the sci-fi flavour of the month as a metaphor that explores self-worth and connection.
Evelyn Wang is a middle-aged, Asian-American woman with strained family relationships, facing a tax audit for the family business. Her husband Waymond attempts to serve her with divorce papers, her daughter Joy is trying to win her mother's approval and acceptance of her relationship with Becky, and her father is constant in his disapproval and criticism of Evelyn. Evelyn is struggling to hold all the pieces together.
Waymond and Evelyn take their paperwork to the IRS. Here, Evelyn's husband undergoes a swift personality change when he is possessed by Alpha-Waymond, a Multiverse traveller who is searching for the ultimate version of Evelyn, the one who can defeat the great menace of the multiverse, Jobu Topaki.
Through Waymond's guidance, Evelyn learns the skill of 'verse-jumping', connecting with every other incarnation of herself, and tapping into each of their skills and experiences. She learns that in the Alpha universe, she was an expert jumper, pushing Jobu Topaki so far to become the same that she fractured, becoming present in every multiverse, spreading the rule of the 'everything bagel', a nihilistic black hole of despair. She has also been searching for Evelyn, in order to show her that when you don't feel anything, then nothing matters, a state of being experienced by Evelyn's daughter Joy.
Under the layers of the multiverse adventure lie the fractured communication between the family members. There are many themes in this film; parent-child relationships, mental health, immigrant experience, personal potential and personal choices. Ultimately, the message that shines through is the choice to act with kindness. Evelyn has spent her life under the weight of her own father's disapproval, and it has affected her own life choices, and the way she interacts with her daughter. She is a failure at everything, says Alpha-Waymond, which is why she can succeed at everything, by verse-jumping and gaining the skills of all her other possibilities. And she does, saving herself and Jobu Topaki's multiverse lackeys by validating who they are, in a way that she has missed throughout her life.
Despite the heavy undertones, there is a bubbling sense of humour in this film that lightens the seriousness and at the same time provides the solution to the chaos and nihilism. It's also an antidote to the underlying destruction that threatens to be unleashed by the conflict between Evelyn and Jobu Topaki.
The film has an emotional subtext that blossoms through the fast-paced combat and the sci-fi escapades. It reflects how our emotions are often buried under our day to day lives, and how those emotions affect how we represent ourselves. The film is funny, silly, even absurd, and the quick action makes it sometimes challenging to follow, but the combination of technology, fabulous costuming, fight scenes and cinematic technique makes the viewer want to watch to the end, and genuinely care for both the hero and villain, although it is never quite clear which is which.