Life’s sensible yet carnivalesque approach was captured, highlighting the humor, chaos, and unconventional structure of the temporal in the latest film from A24, Everything Everywhere All At Once.
Helmed by directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All At Once became everyone’s cup of tea on a massive global scale, before finally reaching Philippine Cinemas through TBA Studios.
Having premiered last June 29 nationwide, EEAAO can now be watched by Filipinos all over the country on the big screen. With the constant advertising from TBA Studios and, at the same time, the hype that was given by the unwavering fans and audiences who relentlessly showered the film positive reviews and their diverse understanding of what they had seen and experienced on various social media platforms, more and more people became attracted and engaged in what seemed to be a growing “surrealist” trend.
Poster via TBA Studios, Facebook
After receiving global recognition since its first screening in March 2022 by the Southwest Film Festival, which had a limited release on March 25, 2022, followed by a nationwide screening in the United States on April 8, film enthusiasts and critics were quick to claim this film as a groundbreaking masterpiece that people must watch.
Marking the film’s initial success, it is now the highest grossing film that A24 Studio has produced, surpassing the films Hereditary and Hidden Gems. Other than this, the film won numerous awards at the recent Hollywood Critics Association Midseason Awards, taking home the Best Picture and Best Indie Film awards.
The Daniels, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, also won for Best Director and Best Screenplay. Michelle Yeoh, the critically acclaimed actress, won the Best Actress award, while Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Quan won the Best Supporting Actress and Actor awards, respectively. All things considered, Everything Everywhere All At Once is now expected to be nominated for Best Picture at the 95th Academy Awards in March 2023.
Images via A24, Twitter
The film’s hybridity of genres, which penetrates through sci-fi, thriller-action, and romantic-comedy, and family drama, elevates different emotions to its audiences, sometimes overlapping with one another at the same time. The film, being a genre-bending beauty, is one of its most significant and unique elements that made viewers lose themselves in the process of unraveling the many plot devices seen throughout the over two-hour big screen journey, where you may find yourself laughing but getting overwhelmed by the profound and boundary-pushing visuals.
The production exceeds the usual artistry of filmmaking while presenting, at its simplest core, the narrative of Evelyn Quan Wang, an aging Chinese immigrant woman who is first struggling with her taxes and her collapsing family business, which we would later on see to be a mirror what seems to be the nearing demise of her family’s relationship.
However, she will end up facing more conflicts after discovering that there’s a multiverse which is on the verge of disruption and that it is now her responsibility to play as a hero. The film then magnified Evelyn’s individuality, illuminating the troubles brought by her fumbled relationships with her daughter Joy, husband Waymond, and father Gong Gong, as well as her responsibilities as a mother, wife, as a daughter, and as a business woman who’s an immigrant in the U.S., bound by the cultural differences and to the intergenerational trauma she and her daughter are experiencing. Nonetheless, these conflicts made her realize the depth of life and love.
Through the well-woven storyline is the utilization of the concept of multiverse and multiple alternative realities that present her different personas leading different lives, unraveling the significance of choices and consequences, and so much more.
Michelle Yeoh, without a doubt, exhibits her genius ideas and talent once again with her performance as the central character. Portraying the character with absolute excellence and a sense of nobleness, she brings the pure, layered emotions that are needed in every scene.
The characterization of Evelyn is undeniably challenging to be performed; from the internal and external conflicts that cause psychological challenges to her pulling the personas’ realities to intersect and intertwine with each other; to the numerous versions of the character from different dimensions and realities; the quick change of personalities by tweaking behavior and nuances; even the extreme action stunts and kung-fu abilities that the character is meant to be capable of. Yeoh still successfully accessed the truth and the quirkiness of Evelyn, but didn’t forget to accentuate the feministic spine of bravery and the motherly and romantic heart of the character.
Just like how chaotic Evelyn’s environment and life is, the audience may experience the chaos of multiple layers of everything, from the aesthetically pleasing visuals that may keep the audience’s eyes glued to the screen, mesmerized, to the abundance of the various sequences and diverse frames. The production’s efforts in the storytelling process are commendable, given how some single frames were only played for a fraction of a minute, despite obvious artistic prowess.
In addition to this are the technical designs, such as the lightning, and the vividness that comes with it through the post-process of color grading, completing the galvanic and almost hypnotic effect of the film. Everything Everywhere All At Once is an outstanding experimental film that is well-crafted with the grandeur of the production design that will make you forget that it was produced by an independent company. The whole mise-en-scene is admirable, from the combination of set pieces, decorative objects, props, and, of course, the extravagance of the costume designs, especially Joy’s, who’s flaunting different sets of clothes with popping and sparkling make-up during her screen time.
Images via A24, Twitter
Other than this, the production adapted the spatial or physical space limitations, catalyzing the claustrophobic sensation and putting you in a state where you can directly feel the same sensation of being overwhelmed by everything that the characters are also living through. The choices for the music and sound effects were coherently expressed, expressing the enveloping thrill of the film. The entire cinematography is effective in enticing the audience and making them addicted to what they are watching, taking them through the whirlpool of the complexity of each element.
What makes this film more mind-blowing is how the creators made the illogical, insane, and sometimes hilarious concepts to become the tectonic scenes of the film that made the narrative ironically logical, monumental, and more understandable. It utilizes the sense of absurdity and transcendence that emphasized the dishevelment and unpredictability of the universes, creating the wholesomeness of the entire film that was all assisted by force of emotions.
Another important device of this film is the characters. Their psyches, nuances to scene plotting, and relationships to one another were what drew and immersed us flourishingly deep into the various themes that the film tries to shed light on.
Themes about the East Asian descent old tradition and how it affects the condition of first and second generation immigrants; the generational trauma that your own family may inflict on you; the closeness and detachment of one’s relationship to the people and to his or her environment; finding one’s own identity or, in this case, identities; while highlighting a nihilistic philosophy for life and the perplexity of the meaninglessness of our existence.
It also explores the mother-daughter relationship and how strong the string between them is, showing that even in the other universes, the two characters were tangled up with each other, even in the most chaotic of ways. But the most remarkable and noteworthy motif of the film are the ideologies that are foregrounded on different levels. The film explores the value of a simple life and how significant the little things are, embracing the essentiality of this modest existence.
Other than this, the film throws questions like “what ifs?” that will push you to contemplate consequential matters, giving the film more depth. The film’s heartwarming ending was soundly concluded.
Giving the full packed experience for all to be yielded into the mind-bending dimensions that succumb to the realistic and unrealistic sensibilities of each universe, the film will surely poke and melt viewers’ minds and hearts.
Everything Everywhere All At Once may transport you along with the characters into the loud multiple universes, but the core of this family drama and romance will draw you to epistemic enlightenment that will soon impel you to embrace everything, everywhere all at once.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is still showing in selected Philippine theaters nationwide.