A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

“Everything Everywhere All At Once”: Finding meaning in a world where each moment is weirder than the last

Photo courtesy of Rotten Tomatoes
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” takes the viewer on a journey into the multiverse, where the mundane and the weird infinitely intersect.

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, known for their equally bizarre 2016 directorial debut, “Swiss Army Man,” have struck the strangest kind of gold with their newest foray into the absurd, “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

Drawing incredible power from its theming, the film’s exploration of regret, nihilism, gratitude and generational trauma against a backdrop of preposterous comedy culminate in a viewing experience with a wonderful cult-classic feeling. It’s weird, it’s complicated, it’s one-of-a-kind.

Michelle Yeoh masterfully portrays Evelynn Wong, a Chinese-American laundromat owner at the end of her rope with both her business and her family. Dealing with an aging and demanding father, a neglected marriage, a distant daughter and an IRS audit, Evelynn’s life takes a sudden turn into the weird when her husband, played by Ke Huy Quan, is replaced by a strange, alternate version of himself. This new version of her husband gives her bizarre instructions while warning of an impending danger: the collapse of the multiverse. Evelynn rapidly finds herself connecting with uncanny alternate versions of herself, kung fu fighting an IRS auditor, and fighting with and against her own family.

The film has a charming playfulness from start to finish. Even serious moments are punctuated by an overarching absurdism that constantly reminds viewers that this is a movie where anything can, and will, happen. This ludicrous nature plays an integral part of the story’s pacing, where every story beat is marked by being weirder than the last. But it’s not random: each new, strange sequence works to build the commentary. The film introduces a lot very quickly, true to its title, and it feels overwhelming at first. But slowly and satisfyingly, all these seemingly arbitrary elements begin to form together into a cohesive, touching finale.

The fight sequences are dynamic, fun and ridiculous homages to wuxia. Extending an action sequence across approximately seven minutes of screen time without it becoming stale is even more impressive than performing a 720 kick that can send a 250-pound man through a solid wood door. Fans of western and eastern action movies alike will have a great time watching the choreographed fights, which combine classic kung fu moves with the hallmark destructiveness of heavy-hitting American action.

The cinematography leans well into the motifs of the story with energetic camera work, dynamic lighting and thoughtful set detail. The sheer amount of what this movie does visually would be jumbled and overwhelming in any other film: but in a movie about being jumbled and overwhelmed, it just works. With each beat of the writing introducing something completely new, it only makes sense that the visuals would follow suit.

The standout of the film, however, is its message. Few films can explode into so many directions and pull from that chaos such coherent themes. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is about finding the best version of yourself in a world that can be both mundane and overpowering. Even if things are scary and confusing, you can find strength in yourself and those close to you.

Kwan and Scheinert’s film is well deserving of its praise. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has found its way into my top favorite movies, and for its incredible attention to detail, refreshing originality, thoughtful theming and awesome kung fu action, I give it a perfect rating.

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About the Contributor
Aryk Copley
Aryk Copley, Photographer
Aryk Copley (he/they) is an aspiring photojournalist in his second year with The Oak Leaf. After experiencing a brain injury and a subsequent 5-year recovery, Aryk has returned to school with a matured perspective of the world. As a means to cope with the aftereffects of his injury, he developed a passion for photography. Aryk works as a freelance wedding and portrait photographer in the Sonoma County area and maintains a propensity for full-contact weapons fighting, analog film photography, traveling, cinema and thrifting.

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