A miracle we must protect at all costs.
I love that this movie exists. I love that directing duo Daniels absolutely commits to every batshit idea (especially running gags born from ESL jokes). I love that the trust between all collaborators involved practically leaps right off the screen at you. And most of all, i love the messages that Everything Everywhere All at Once champions, because we don’t hear them enough.
“You think because I’m kind that it means I’m naïve, and maybe I am. It’s strategic and necessary. This is how I fight.”Waymond in Everything Everywhere All At Once
It’s wonderful enough to see the exquisite treasure who is Michelle Yeoh, at nearly 60 (!), starring in a film which allows her to showcase every genre she has played in her long and amazing career, from martial arts to comedy to tender drama. But even beyond seeing a lead Asian older woman kick all kinds of ass, the most miraculous moment in EEAAO comes from the doting man alongside her, Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), whose pivotal line to her is: “This is how I fight” – with kindness. Outside of recent animated films, that kind of representation is sorely lacking in cinema, and in culture more broadly. This representation matters to me.
“The only thing I know is that we have to be kind. Please, be kind. Especially when we don’t know what’s going on.”Waymond in Everything Everywhere All At Once
EEAAO is a master thesis in empathy – but not, as another film might do, by challenging us to relate to a reprehensible protagonist, and thus confronting us with our own abjection. Instead, every single seemingly laughable character and absurd situation to which we are introduced is explored with genuine curiosity and dignity; each is presented sympathetically, as having desires and vulnerabilities; and each is ultimately revealed to be driven by a desire for happiness and a love for another. The miracle, of course, is that EEAAO balances its impossible number of stories, emotions, tones, and concepts, from the macro level of across the movie to the micro, moment-to-moment within a single scene. But what separates EEAAO from the average earnest movie is that it doesn’t rely on clichéd sentiment – instead, it earns every single one of its heartfelt moments, and builds its original quotable moments right before your eyes, and it does all this because it’s built on the assumption that anything, contemplated long enough, can be moving.
Perhaps the best way to prepare to see EEAAO is by watching Michelle Yeoh talk through her unparalleled career (via GQ):
Look. This entire directors-and-actors chat is lovely, but it’s especially moving to hear Ke Huy Quan (who plays the arguable hero of the film Waymond) talk about his maligned career as an Asian actor, and exactly why and how he embraced the opportunity presented to him in EEAAO (also: snaps for the masterful editing of the trailers interspersed throughout this segment) (via EW):
And as for Michelle Yeoh’s colour-tagged script… I asked Daniels themselves, and they responded:
“Waymond manifests kindness through patience, communication, and empathy… he understands the oppressive nature of the world, but chooses to fight back in his own way: with empathy, joy, and hope.” Pop Culture Detective explains why Everyone Everywhere Needs Waymond Wang:
Howard Ho‘s lovely look at How Clair de Lune Works in Everything Everywhere All At Once:
In case you somehow missed it, here’s the viral music video which made the Daniels’ name…
… which was part of a body of work of music videos and short films, in which the directors established their sense of humour, explored references, and developed approaches and techniques, all of which made it possible for the duo attempt something as audacious and revolutionary as “make kindness as thrilling as a John Wick finale” (via CineFix):
Jackie Chan, with whom Michelle Yeoh worked and absolutely matched in the death-defying stunt work stakes, perfected the type of long-take action comedy sequence choreography utilised in EEAAO, as examined so wonderfully by Every Frame A Painting:
Daniels asked film critic Walter Chaw to write some words to help convince families to watch EEAAO together:
For all the inventiveness and whimsy of its sci-fi conceit, there is also the argument that EEAAO‘s vision of the multiverse doesn’t go far enough. “Multiversality had the potential to reveal the limits of this capitalist reality,” laments Pillar of Garbage, “but the opposite ended up happening: that reality came to define the limits of the multiverse“:
Here’s a roundup of behind-the-scenes on the creative directing, editing, and VFX processes behind EEAAO: