Everything Everywhere All At Once does the multiverse of madness but with precision, clarity and direction.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is best described with a single symbol. The symbol of Ouroboros.
The self-consuming circular snake is a piece of ancient Egyptian history that shows the cyclic nature of time repeating itself with death and rebirth.
Ouroboros rears its head (and tail) again in the Daniels film Everything Everywhere All At Once, as the all-encompassing circular nature of life and destruction is the thematic tie for the surrealist multiverse drama.
Michelle Yeoh, of Crazy Rich Asian fame, spends the film as Evelyn Wang determining the monolithic origin of the Ouroboros as imagined, in its most modern version, as an Everything Bagel created by an individual who had harnessed all of existence and embued the bagel with existence itself.
In case it wasn’t obvious, Everything Everywhere All At Once is bonkers. It is confusing, intellectually bewildering and utterly mindboggling.
A surrealist drama that tackles Asian generational trauma, maternal instincts, and personal identity fleshes out the dramatic genre, whilst leaning fully into the multiverse opportunities in a better way than Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness despite the Marvel release having an eight times larger budget.
Artistically, Everything Everywhere All At Once shows how life is ever-changing, constantly fighting and evolving our past selves, yet, nothing ever matters.
Teetering the line between nihilism and surrealism is executed with such precision for this inventive indie piece, that it could have a similar lasting impression on audiences in the same way that Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey did back in 1968.
Indeed, it is Kubrick’s metaphor of the allegory of human conception, death, and rebirth shown in 2001: A Space Odyssey that directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as “the Daniels”, replicate whilst satirically and knowingly mocking with match-cuts, a flashback of the dawn of humanity with apes, and an omnipresent black geometric monolith that watches humanity.
Many may struggle to be enticed in this pretentious intellectual commentary on existence, however, its visual cinematic language and use of low-budget techniques make this a joy to behold as the nuances of intellectually get lost amongst colour, spectacle and crass surrealism.
Audiences are led to see the pointlessness in existence, yet moments later are flamboyantly delighted with postmodern self-aware surrealist jokes.
Everything, all at once both matters and is utterly pointless all at the same time. A Schrodinger’s Bagel of existence.
It is, in truth, the circular notion of humanity that the film finds its strength in addition to Stephanie Hsu’s antagonistic performance.
Circles and their repetition are littered in every scene, location or detailing, as if, no matter how hard the characters try, life continues, yet nothing changes.
Whether that’s the windows of the machines in the laundromat Michelle Yeoh owns, the Chinese cash coins, the necklace worn by her character, the universe of rocks, or the scrawling of tax receipts by IRS inspector Deirdre (Jamie Lee Curtis), every character is trapped in a repetitive circle, and nothing will end it.
That is, with the exception of the three-act structure signposted with each part a breakdown of the title, Everything; Everywhere, and All At Once respectively.
A three-sided juxtaposition to the Never-Ending nature of both the character’s own existence and the ouroboros thematics of generational existence.
Something had to fight back, break the cycle, and draw attention to itself, and what better than the film itself in an entirely meta acknowledgement.
Though, with a film referencing 2001: A Space Odyssey and additionally casting Pixar composer Randy Newman to voice Raccacoonie, a puppeteering raccoon that exists in one of many infinite universes, that specifically had learned to puppeteer a human to cook, mirroring Pixar’s Ratatouille.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is as mentioned, bonkers. It is entirely surreal, intellectually amazing, but yet, as it reiterates, none of it ever truly matters as either way, we’re trapped in this ouroboros we call life, so we may as well enjoy it.
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