Battle lines

Everything Everywhere All At Once (15, 139 minutes)

First impressions of this lengthy adventure is of a metaphysical mish-mash of multiverses, martial arts and mayhem. Pretty much what it says on the tin.

But I quickly came to realise that if this was a completely foreign language film set in China critics would be declaring it the new Parasite.

It’s funny while being deep as Michelle Yeoh gives a marvellous nuanced performance as Evelyn, the owner of a run down launderette facing closure and the wrath of a tax inspector played by an unrecognisable Jamie Lee Curtis.

But Evelyn’s life of regret over what could have been is turned upside down when she gets a glimpse of the many alternate lives she has across the multiverse, from a famous actress, an acclaimed singer, to chef, martial arts star of the film Pinky Of Fury (including pumped little fingers) and even a world where everyone has hot dogs for fingers.

Evelyn is the thread connecting all of these versions of herself as the world faces an existential threat – but is the battle actually being fought internally out of frustration?

Heavy stuff yet across two hours plus, in addition to confronting the realisation that your life has not met your ambitions and the reflex search for something or someone to blame there is also the absolute delight of turning the martial arts set piece on its head, firstly in the offices of the IRS with a blow by blow copy of Jackie Chan’s routine in Shanghai Knights, a bum bag taking the place of a heavy duty rope, and a hilarious fight involving a trouser-less security guard with a large butt plug shaped employee award stuck up his bottom.

Once you accept that there is method in all the madness and seemingly scattergun, random cinematography which at times is reminiscent of Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs The World, this is a delightful multi-layered tale in which Yeoh tackles oh so many different versions of Evelyn with aplomb, one minute employing despair, the next slapstick, the next a scathing put down only a mother could make to a teenage daughter whose choices are like a dagger to the heart.

Dramatically I would say this is her finest performance. Although there is strong support from Stephanie Hsu as Joy and Ke Huy Quan as husband Waymond (which may be an un-pc joke, I really don’t know), it’s Yeoh who carries the multiverse on her shoulders and she deserves fulsome praise for every one of those Evelyns.

With so much going on right in your face almost to the point of overload it’s ironic that the moral matches that of another who travelled to distant places without even leaving home some 83 years ago.

Multiverse of madness? Hmmm…

RATING: 8/10

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]