That was my initial reaction.
As I sat in the flickering light of the credits, I felt dumbfounded by what I had just seen and yet, profoundly moved and compelled by it as well. You see, I haven’t written a full length review like this one since War For The Planet of the Apes, and that was FIVE years ago. And yet, the words here were immediately forming in my head, and I knew I had to get them out as soon as I could.
Everything Everywhere All At Once had inspired me to forget about everything else and do what I love. It had inspired me to just… write.
I’m sure a big part of that inspiration comes from the amazing cast, which includes James Hong, Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephanie Hsu, and Kay Hu Quan (!!), but at the center of it all, it’s the incredible performance by Michelle Yeoh that connected with me the most. She is versatile, beautiful, flawless, and fierce (and sometimes all at once).
But what exactly is it about?
Well, without spoilers, you could say it’s about a mid-life crisis and wasted potential told in a very original, ambitious, entertaining way. Or that it’s about nihilism and losing the fight on just giving up, here represented by a bagel with everything on it. Truly.
You could also say it’s a goofy and chaotic comedy packed with absurd imagery like hot dog fingers, or maybe that it’s a deep meditation on life and love, regrets and acceptance, and ultimately finding contentment within your particular place in the multi-verse, which is to say inner peace.
Perhaps you could even claim that it’s an action movie filled with deep appreciation for Asian Cinema as a whole, especially films created by Wong Kar-Wai, Ang Lee, and the Shaw Brothers Studios. Or maybe it’s even about music and life imitating art, such as when the lyrics to Absolutely (Story of a Girl) are spoken out loud in a scene and it somehow seems so completely appropriate that you might even question whether it was intentional or not.
Maybe it’s really about the mundane things in life that can eventually consume you if you’re not careful, like getting up early every day to go to work at a job you hate because of whatever circumstance or choice has put you in the position where you can’t quit. Heck, maybe it’s actually about filing your taxes on time.
Well, it’s actually all of these things and more, of course, but don’t worry. As weird as it gets, and as rambling as I might sound doing my best to describe it, none of it feels particularly pretentious or complicated. Kudos to the filmmakers for somehow achieving that precarious balance because what the Daniels have achieved is nothing short of mind-blowing. The production design and editing are absolutely some of the best I’ve ever seen.
But you know, at the end of this, I’m finding that my initial expression still sums this movie up the best.