Midsommar, the sophomore feature from Ari Aster (Hereditary), is a head-trip on multiple levels and a full flex of what cinema is capable of.
The film fascinates us with a bizarre tragedy that devastates the film’s heroine Dani (Florence Pugh). It’s an overwhelming introduction that is subtly technical; giving audiences a taste of the idling discomfort that Aster will consistently supply. To shift the focus off of the heavy atmosphere, Aster builds an idyllic society that the rest of the film’s story will occupy. Dani, along with her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) and his friends, travel to Sweden to find inspiration for upcoming thesis reports based on an isolated society and their pagan festivities. Dani, using this time to emotionally reset, is welcomed by the commune; eventually giving her a chance to take part in honoured celebrations. She certainly starts to question the hospitality and heritage of this seemingly accepting collective, but it’s often difficult when her perspective is heightened by hallucinogenic substances and high-pitched ceremonies.
Midsommar is an enigmatic movie that, quite literally, breathes with life. The film is peppered with genre pieces from horrors and dramas, and even some comedy, to create a narrative about reclaiming yourself in the wake of abandonment. Similarly to how Shahbaz Khayambashi recently described The Lighthouse (another film released by A24), Midsommar disarms movie goers with welcoming traits, only to hit us even harder with unforgettable – sometimes gruesome – imagery. As someone who has revisited the film recently as well (I caught the directors cut in theatres, which is now only available on iTunes), Ari Aster has certainly utilized each scene to its fullest – hiding easter eggs in the scenery, using key background actors to add an aura of dread. While the details in the director’s cut help bridge gaps together for those needing more information, the movie remains an unspoiled mystery.
Midsommar is a multifaceted film that wants to work with the audience, and also deceive them – making viewers intentionally uncertain while their emotions are played like a fiddle. Midsommar may be intricate, but it’s a lot of freaky fun trying to figure it out.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie