Midsommar [Midsummer] (2019)

Midsommar
Director: Ari Aster
Writer: Ari Aster
Cast: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren, William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter, Ellora Torchia, Archie Madekwe, Henrik Norlén, Gunnel Fred
Seen on: 22.8.2019
1-gif-review

Content Note: ableism, saneism, suicide

Plot:
Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) have been dating for a while, though their relationship isn’t exactly good anymore. But Christian feels he can’t break up with Dani after a tragedy in her family. When Christian is invited to a midsummer festival in Sweden by his Swedish friend Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), he plans on going with his friends Josh (William Jackson Harper) and Mark (Will Poulter). Dani invites herself along, not exactly to Christian’s joy. But the change of scenery seems to do them some good, at least until the festival takes a distinct turn for the weird.

Midosmmar is probably the worst case scenario for a break-up but a really cool film. I did have some issues with it, but overall, I really liked it.

The film poster showing a close-up of half of Dani's (Florence Pugh) face. She is wearing a flower crown and crying.

I’ll start with what really bothered me about the film, and that’s mostly the way Aster uses disability and mental illness (after Hereditary, I have to say again). The character of Ruben (Levente Puczkó-Smith) and the incest commentary was such an ableist trope, and was entirely unnecessary for the film or the story. It could have just been left out. Things with Dani’s sister and how everything ended there was a saneist trope that directly contributes to the stigmatization of mental illness and shouldn’t have been in the film, either.

There were also a couple of plot elements that just didn’t make sense that ranged from mildly annoying (crowning a May Queen in June? Why??) to a bit more of a headscratchers (let me just say, periods and fertility…), but ultimately they didn’t really matter as the film inexorably draws you into its world. It didn’t even hurt that draw that the film was sometimes really funny, and mostly not voluntarily so.

Christian (Jack Reynor) leading Dani (Florence Pugh) across a meadow full of flowers towards a group of people dancing around a huge wooden pole, all dressed in white.

There are some great visuals (actually enhanced by the fact that we saw this at an outdoor screening and the screen kept moving slightly in the wind, adding to the distortion that the film brings on its own already), and generally great cinematography and music (less charming than the screen effect was the fact that the sound didn’t work that well at our screening – that was a little annoying).

But the film only works so well because Pugh is so incredible. Reynor isn’t bad either, but Pugh really cements my excellent impression of her so far. She makes sure that despite all the outlandish things that are happening here, we keep our emotional connection to the events. And that’s really what the film needs to take you on the mindfuck it embarks on.

Dani (Florence Pugh) wearing an elaborate flower crown, sitting on a throne decorated with flowers and leaves.

Summarizing: really good.

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