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SXSW 2022: ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ is Mind-Bending Cornucopia of Goodness

Everything Everywhere All At Once
Credit: A24

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‘Everything Everywhere All at Once,’ the latest film by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, is exactly that. This film approaches so much thematically with such ferocity and frenetic energy that the viewer can’t help but relate with the protagonist. We don’t stay in one place for very long, we jump from moment to moment in a way that captures the stress, anxiety, and overwhelmingness of experiencing and living life. It is never completely clear, it is never completely safe, and it is absolutely never easy. 

The film may lose some audience members with the above mentioned ferocity. This film jumps from ‘lowbrow’ humor to gentle human moments and never takes the time to coddle the audience during the transitions. 

In truth, the opening minutes of the film, which is before all the more dynamic and whimsical moments start flashing across the screen, might be the most stressful. Feeling the chaos and stress of just living, just trying to arrange a party, run a business, be a parent, and prepare taxes. It is almost a reprieve once the narrative, and all of the wonderfully dadaist multiverse, explodes. 

Everything Everywhere All At Once
Credit: A24

And that multiverse, while filled with humor and ridiculousness, is what makes this film so wonderful. One can’t help but watch the fragments of creativity fracturing into more and more ridiculous universes and be impressed this film maintains any cohesion. From hot dog fingers to raccoons, and beyond, the worlds shown and explored are colorful eruptions of imagination and creativity. 

This isn’t the first time a film has explored the surreal and really reveled in it, but this might be the first time that the narrative manages to unify, solidify, and create a wholistic thematic portrayal of humanity. Everything, Everywhere, All at Once is a singular film. It is not simply vignettes of wacky moments. 

When the final act of the film arrives and the relationships and stories that happen in the silliest of alternate realities illicit a relatable and sincere emotional response, you know the film is special. 

With life and the human experience being indescribable, unknowable, and generally chaotic it is comforting to know that we have managed to find art. Art and the artists behind it can capture emotions and feelings that can’t be cleanly communicated with language. While some may feel disconnected and separate from this film and its approach, there is no question that the approach is intentional and wholly of the filmmakers. We have seen their wackiness prior to this film, we have seen their fearlessness in approaching subjects in the name of the overarching narrative, but this may be their largest stride in the area of sincerity. At the foundation of this film is kindness, empathy, and an exploration of the communal bravery it takes to simply be human and not collapse to life’s more traumatic moments.

Everything, Everywhere All at Once is perhaps the most affective portrayal of what living feels like. It is fractured, stressful, confusing. But it is also wonderful and worth fighting for. 

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