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Close-Up with Camenker Volume XXXIII, Movie Review: EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE

This Week for “Close-Up with Camenker,” Volume XXXIII, EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE

(May 24, 2022)

Though I had intended my next column to be about the new DOWNTON ABBEY film, I managed to unexpectedly catch EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE as it exited from the cinema after a long and successful run. I can certainly see why it has done so well in theatres and in the eyes of the critics, propelling the studio A24 to even further success.

At the center of this fascinating and complicated narrative is an Asian-American laundromat owner named Evelyn Wang who may soon face trouble with her whole world and especially the IRS, particularly as she meets with an overzealous agent named Deirdre. Evelyn is played by Michelle Yeoh and Deirdre is played by Jamie Lee Curtis. These multi-talented ladies steal the show in their respective roles and prove that there is a place for everyone in film, a comforting reminder given that women of their age would likely have faced a career shift 30 or more years ago.

As is typical with A24, the set-up of this piece is a bit convoluted. It takes about 20 minutes to settle into the narrative, beginning with some loud motions and slightly confusing plot points. The pinnacle of the movie’s success, however, comes with Act One, which is named “Everything” and takes the audience on a really wild ride in the IRS building and beyond. This continues through Act Two (Everywhere) and while it fades a bit for me in the final act (All at Once), it never totally loses its charm.

The loud motions and slightly confusing plot points never fully diminish, but one gets more and more accustomed to them, also realizing that it comes with the territory of an A24 piece like this. While the plot is never totally perfect for me, the fact that the expertly crafted film manages to seduce an audience member like me who does not often enjoy the sci-fi/supernatural/experimental mix is a triumph in and of itself.

Yeoh plays well with her surroundings, including the other principal performers who make up the ensemble. They gel nicely and are up to the challenge of straddling worlds. James Hong, a legendary performer who has a gargantuan filmography, plays Evelyn’s father while Stephanie Hsu and Ke Huy Quan play her daughter and husband. None of the performers have an easy task at hand, but they make us feel a part of their wild universe throughout.

I read somewhere in a review that Michelle Yeoh said that this movie is why she makes movies. I truly believe that a film like this which can attract viewers of all shapes and sizes is exactly why I see movies and love them dearly. There is so much to enjoy about the film aside from its cast and uniqueness. The music alone is beautiful enough, but so are the other moving pieces that I always look for like editing, sound effects, and visual appeal.

While it is indeed early in the year, I smell some love for this film down the line, especially in the area of critics prizes and independent film love. Although there are future films on the horizon that have good looking trailers and premises of this type, you’d be hard pressed to find one quite as unique as this.

If you missed it at Red River or elsewhere in the movies, definitely check it out as soon as you can. You will not be sorry! Even if it’s not your type of movie, there is indeed something in it for everyone.

Stay tuned for Volume XXXIV of “Close-Up with Camenker,” which will return soon with thoughts on the new DOWNTON ABBEY film.

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