While watching Everything, Everywhere, All at Once, starring Michelle Yeoh, there comes a point early on when you realise how ironic the film is. Evelyn Wang (Yeoh), a Chinese-American businesswoman who is being audited by the IRS, whose relationship with her second-generation daughter is strained, and whose affable-to-a-fault husband wants a divorce, is suddenly transported to an alternate reality.

This is just one of many that show how her life might have turned out differently had she made different decisions at various points. From the California IRS building, Evelyn suddenly finds herself in the back of a limo, about to attend yet another major premiere as a movie star version of herself.

Michelle Yeoh Finds The Beauty in the Ordinary in Everything

Yeoh is well aware of how viewers would react to the sequence, which features footage of Yeoh in the flesh at a number of star-studded premieres. However, she stresses that this Evelyn is not Michelle Yeoh despite the resemblance.

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Returns From the Red Carpet

She returns from the red carpet universe and tells her husband, “I glimpsed my life without you,” in a nasty tone. Aw, man, you should have seen that; it was stunning.
“Evelyn should have a say in the world,” Yeoh argues.

She’s just a regular housewife and mom, an immigrant working hard to make ends meet and keep the American dream alive after all these years. Oh, and she has to do her taxes, too.

Although Yeoh is convinced that Michelle can’t relate to Evelyn’s story in any significant way, there is one area in which their stories do overlap. Each has been given far too little credit where it is due. The people in her life, the general public, and even Evelyn herself all find nothing special in her persona as a middle-aged lady.

Yes, in the film business. In recent years, Yeoh has had the “luxury of co-starring” in films like Crazy Rich Asians and Memoirs of a Geisha rather than receiving top billing, despite having a remarkable and illustrious career spanning from Yes, Madam! through Tomorrow Never Dies.

In Hollywood, “I have not been the first lead in a movie in a long, long time,” she explains. Getting the chance to direct Everything, Everywhere, All at Once in a part written for her validated her belief that she can hold her own as the film’s sole protagonist. Literally anything can be accomplished by Yeoh.

My God, I feel that they wrote that for me since it encompasses all of the things that I’ve been dying to do, wanting to do, and mourning to accomplish. It was such a relief and delight to think that way.

Yeoh herself has followed a very straight professional path from young ingenue to exquisite mother-in-law, so it’s refreshing to see her in such a complex and nuanced role later in her career.

‘Oh no, no, no, we should let the males do all these types of things,’ they say to me only because you are now an older actress,” Yeoh explains. Thank goodness the Daniels (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the film’s authors and filmmakers) didn’t have that mindset. They came up with an idea that was totally out there in space.

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Last Words

Even though Evelyn is always changing, her agility and athletic skills remain consistent throughout the film, as each Evelyn uses martial arts to battle other characters who can travel between universes.

Evelyn jumps over cubicle walls, fights (including a funny encounter with Jamie Lee Curtis), and even uses her pinky to smash an opponent.