It’s a joy to watch Yeoh go… in any universe: PETER HOSKIN reviews Everything Everywhere All At Once 

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Everything Everywhere All At Once (15, 139 mins)

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Verdict: Multiverse of more madness

Rating:

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Father Stu (15, 124 mins)

Verdict: Badly paced biopic

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Answer me this, Nobel physicists: what do you call a multitude of multiverses? A multimultiverse? The infiniverse?

Whatever the word, it is what’s afflicting — oh, gosh — multiplexes at the moment.

After last week’s Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, we now have another film about overlapping, parallel universes.

This one is called Everything Everywhere All At Once, probably because it originated in a universe without commas.

But, really, it’s the differences between the two films that stand out, rather than their cosmic similarities.

Michelle Yeoh (pictured) stars in Everything Everywhere All At Once, a multiverse-spanning film released by production company A24

Michelle Yeoh (pictured) stars in Everything Everywhere All At Once, a multiverse-spanning film released by production company A24

The science-fiction action adventure features Yeoh (centre) as a woman who can't seem to finish her taxes

The science-fiction action adventure features Yeoh (centre) as a woman who can’t seem to finish her taxes

Everything Everywhere isnt the next stage of Marvel’s global supremacy plan.

It is, instead, the latest release from A24, the New York-based film company behind such inventive, independent-spirited fare as 2019’s Uncut Gems and last year’s The Green Knight.

What’s more, Everything Everywhere stars Michelle Yeoh.

In fact, technically speaking, it stars lots of Michelle Yeohs. And that is a very good thing indeed.

At the beginning, though, this is not the Yeoh we know: the balletic martial artist from films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000).

Here, she plays Evelyn Wang, the owner of a struggling launderette in Somewheresville, America, whose life is like an extended heart attack.

Bills haven’t been paid. A pathologically dreaded IRS agent (played by an almost unrecognizable, and very funny, Jamie Lee Curtis) is on her case. Her sad-eyed husband (Ke Huy Quan) is resigned to a divorce. And will someone — please — just bring some food to her querulous dad (James Hong)?

Yeoh (centre right) plays Evelyn Wang, the owner of a struggling launderette in Somewheresville, America

Yeoh (centre right) plays Evelyn Wang, the owner of a struggling launderette in Somewheresville, America

If that sounds stressful, well, it is — for the viewer, as much as for Wang.

Everything Everywhere is mostly a comedy (and, at times, a hilarious one), but somehow it pulls off the magical trick of making you feel how its characters feel. Harried. Bewildred. Upset.

Then, about 20 minutes in, comes the exhilaration.

That’s when an alternate-universe version of Wang’s husband, going by the call sign ‘Alpha Waymond’, breaks into her reality to inform her that A) a universal peril, who may or may not be their daughter (played by the brilliant Stephanie Hsu ), is spreading itself through time and space, and B) she is the only person who can stop it.

Classic movie on TV: On The Town (1949)

The two stars ought to be enough: Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, as sailors in New York.

But if you need more persuading, this is right up there with Kelly and co-director Stanley Donen’s next musical, Singin’ In The Rain.

Sunday, 1.30pm, BBC2

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Suddenly, the film really gets to show off some of that A24 inventiveness.

There are different universes, different chronologies and even different cinematic styles — peculiarly, one of the alternate worlds is a dead ringer for Wong Kar-wai’s In The Mood For Love (2000).

Yet co-director-writers Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert manage to make it all cohere.

And Yeoh gets to show off, too.

Turns out, there’s an alternate-universe version of Evelyn Wang who made a few different life choices and ended up as, basically, Michelle Yeoh — a kung fu superstar.

Wang ‘verse-jumps’ (don’t ask) to gain the same skills, and starts punching and pirouetting her way through a series of increasingly colorful fight scenes.

Followed by more fight scenes. And more fight scenes. And … there probably is a point at which Everything Everywhere lives up to its name and becomes too much.

In its search for a meaning, the film…

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