Review by Jasper Harvey – 11th grade.
I don’t think that out of the hundreds of films that I have seen, any of them have resonated with me as deeply as this one has. Everything Everywhere All at Once gave me a feeling that I hadn’t felt in a while, a feeling that I was seeing something completely new. Although it is difficult to say anything with certainty about the lasting impact of recent releases without accounting for recency biases, I truly believe that Daniel Kwan’s Everything Everywhere All at Once will set the standard for what a modern blockbuster should be for years to come.
The initial premise for the film’s plot could not seem more banal: a couple on the verge of divorce filing their taxes for their laundromat business. And yet, Kwan’s film is about so much more than that. He takes the bland, ordinary life and transforms it into something beautiful, because that’s what the film is really about: finding the beauty in our everyday lives. His film truly lives up to its title by being about everything, everywhere, all at once. It blends comedy and drama so seamlessly that when watching it I didn’t realize I was no longer crying from laughter but crying genuine tears until they fell down my cheeks.
Kwan’s inspirations for his film are crystal clear. Through the device of a multiverse, Kwan is able to pay homage to his filmmaking idols and influences by referencing their styles in different realities. One reality employs a low frame rate and blurry neon green color palette to deal with the melancholy and heartbreak that comes with love, a clear stylistic and thematic Wong Kar Wai’s Fallen Angels. Another, more lighthearted reality, references the iconic Disney animated film Ratatouille, proving once again that animals cooking food is peak cinema. The transcendental philosophy and simplistic animation present in the finale of Neon Genesis Evangelion and The End of Evangelion appear on a few occasions throughout the film, emphasizing the importance of accepting oneself and others.
Given the sheer amount of visual content in Everything Everywhere All at Once, it would be easy for the message of the film to be lost in the sea of special effects and multiverses. But after seeing the film, what stuck with me the most was not the universe where everyone has hot dogs for hands, not the universe with Ratatouille-esque racoon controlled teppanyaki chefs, not the everything bagel consuming the multiverse reality at a time, but the message of the value of life. Through the protagonist’s complex relationship with her daughter, Kwan conveys his belief that there are so many factors outside of our control that sometimes the only thing we can do in life is the best we can. Kwan tells us to love ourselves for our faults if not for our virtues, to love our children and parents even though they are not perfect. It’s okay to be a failure as long as we never stop living life. Kwan tells us to make each day our masterpiece, because it might be our last. Everything matters and nothing matters, and with the right people, even doing laundry and taxes can seem like the greatest time in the world.