hough one might marvel at the thought of multiverses, being bewildered at times is excusable. And, as if this increasingly popular concept isn’t challenging enough, the notion of a fictional character finding oneself as a result of experiencing them seems almost counterintuitive.
Yet, in the expanding cosmos of films presenting multiverses and other such alternative realities, no one has personalized the concept as much as Daniels.
Evelyn Wang (a wonderfully cast Yeoh) is a Chinese American, who as as a teen bride, accompanied her ambitious new husband Waymond (Quan) to America on promises of fortune and wealth. Now in her 60s, and helping manage what still is, after all these years, only a modest, struggling laundry, Evelyn’s attitude towards life has soured. Not only has she become dissatisfied with how her life has turned out, she has become indifferent to her family members, who now seem to have turned to other means for emotional support.
When a threat to the family business occurs due to tax discrepancies raised by IRS Agent Deirdre Beaubeirdre (played adequately over the top by Curtis), Evelyn’s world is not only turned upside down, but inside out, and then multiplied by infinite possibilities for good measure. And if that isn’t confounding enough, she finds herself caught up in a plot to apparently destroy the universe. What else?
Disassembling each of these plot elements would easily make the film feel redone. Yet it cannot be overstated how diligently woven moments of self-discovery within an amalgam of possibilities simply not only dazzles the eyes but also the sensibilities in a way that’s reinvigorating. Invoking at times “Inception” and the “Doctor Strange” franchise, at other times “Hero,” and then at other times lacing in a cross-section of cultural mores and the challenges of modern families, writer/director Daniels find a way to ground meaning and hope in this hybrid genre.
There are moments where the film does bog down some in prolonged, explanatory dialogue, creating unlikely static interruptions amongst high-powered action sequences. But that passes because of the lightning quick transitions back to the safety of the present day scaffolding where the actual drama unfolds. Some of the action sequences contrived as battles are mostly limited to the space of the several floors of the IRS building and not the far edges of the universe, but it serves to remind us that everything comes back down to individual experience.
At times humorous, and others sentimental, the film is a restorative tale, one that reminds us that we can all be superheroes in our own lives if we choose.