Don’t come to me for the movie with the most inventive kills. That’s not where my interests lie. At the same time, there’s a certain sort of joy to be had in making something where everyone knows where you’re going.
It’s a movie about love in spring bloom and falling quickly, if that is surprising to you. As for the Director’s Cut, less love and when that fall ends, it makes a loud thud.
Candidly, I would have gotten into this review a while ago, but I’ve been busy — personal stuff, school stuff, and just having a rather important birthday so I may have imbibed in some adult beverages … stuff.
I’m here now and fully engage however, so let’s dive in to the beautiful sunny hillside of Midsommar. In fact, the cut from the one and only Ari Aster.
And no spoilers below, so you’re welcome.
Don’t Go to the Sounds in the Barn
I’m opening up to you, strangers of the Internet. I’m opening up the same way Ari Aster does for all of us who saw Midsommar. I felt so vulnerable when I watched this movie. Yet, sitting there in the theater for the first time, I experienced a sense of self-actualization.
It’s like I was the only one in a theater full of people, almost as if Aster wrote this story specifically for me because he knew what I’ve been through.
Midsommar almost made me feel “too many” feelings. Ari Aster loves grief, like he loves to make us feel his grief. The movie is set in Sweden during the summer where the sun never sets. It violently reflects off every surface throughout the movie. We are treated to lovely vistas of beautiful flowers, bright colors, and soft embracing white lace and ribbons — and still, you feel uncomfortable. It is all too perfect to be real, which explains the extensive use of psychoactive drugs throughout the film.
We meet a couple who goes on a vacation with some friends from school. Well actually, Christian (Jack Reynor) is planning on dumping his girlfriend Dani (Florence Pugh), but then traumatic events cause Christian to feel guilty and decide to not break up with Dani in her time of need. (Classy, isn’t he?)
Dani walks in the room while Christian and his buddies talking about their summer guys’ trip to Sweden. (It was the one Christian when was supposed to be single.) Feeling guilty, the group takes Dani along with them on their anthropological summer journey to study their classmates pagan ritual for “Midsommar.”
Once they arrive to the
cult… eh, festival grounds, the cracks in Dani’s relationship begin to show and the true character of Christian comes to light, both with his friends and his relationship with Dani.
The Struggle is Real
Having survived a few abusive relationships, I have started over and found myself a few times. The strength I feel when leaving the relationship is nothing compared to the peace I feel at home with myself as a person.
When you’re in an abusive or unhealthy relationship, you tend to feel like Play-Doh for what is necessary in that relationship. Other times, you are on the opposite side of that relationship and, although you never intended to hurt anyone, you are in over your head and need to find a way out.
(Just saying, a simple phone call to break up with someone is much easier than going to Sweden and joining a pagan-like ritual.)
In Midsommar, we see both of those sides. Our protagonist Dani goes through growth, grief, pain, and finally, the peace and sense of belonging she desperately needed. We also see the inevitable degradation of Christian she thought she knew and loved.
If it seems like I’m getting personal, it is because this movie is personal.
This is a life we have all either witnessed or with which, we have been involved. Dani’s character does not really have a transformation but more of a coming-to-terms with what she already knew — something with which we can all relate.
In a troubling relationship, we put off our family members or neglect to check on our friends before it’s too late. One day, there will be a day that’s too late. When that day comes, those thoughts of guilt will eat away at you on a daily basis.
Until that day comes, as long as things continue to seem “fine,” there’s no reason to dwell, worry, or do anything about it. The movie also shows you the subconscious knowledge of discovery that — in this case — your boyfriend is a piece of shit. And then, you still hold on to him. You need some sort of semblance with normalcy to give you an ability to continue living.
You know without your one tiny strand of hope and that glimpse of the life that you once had. Without that hope, you would crumble and fade into nothing.
Getting Off on the Wrong Foot
However depressing those types of realizations may be, the climax of the film lies in the cathartic way Dani comes to terms with her trauma.
I do not want to give any spoilers on the differences in the movies, but I can say with certainty, I prefer the Director’s Cut and would watch three more hours of Dani’s evolution.
There are scenes only in the Director’s Cut that honestly, took the breath out of me. I witnessed the unison of women and the sharing of sorrow. Midsommar is haunting, unsettling, and one of my new favorite movies. Midsommar releases digitally on September 24 and October 8 from Lionsgate on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Keep up with me on Twitter via @asthmatichoe to get the latest updates on other movies I watch and books I’m reading as well.