After my first viewing of “Midsommar,” I left the theater conflicted and confused about how I felt about the film. After a second watch, those conflicting feelings only grew.
There are aspects about the movie that I love, like the set design and Florence Pugh’s performance, but there are some parts that make me feel like Ari Aster saw how much of a reaction he got out of people who watched “Hereditary,” and then decided to take those ideas into overdrive. “Midsommar” has even more surprisingly realistic gore, even more naked old people, and even more tragedy. The idea for the movie is interesting to say the least, but the execution made me feel like he was trying to recreate “Hereditary” in a different setting.
The beginning sequence was triggering to me even without having experienced a person close to me take their own life. I cannot even imagine how much that scene would have affected me if I had lived through something similar. That being said, I don’t think the opening sequence is unnecessary, just maybe a little gratuitous in the way it is revealed to the audience. Other than that first death scene, each death scene after that I was able to not be as affected by it since I could look at it from a more distant perspective.
The character of Josh felt like a common static character at first, but once the group arrived in Sweden, it felt like his character’s sole purpose was to pry out exposition from their Swedish friend Pelle so that the audience could keep up. I didn’t mind it during the first viewing since Josh is an anthropology student, so he has a reason to be asking so many questions. On the second viewing, however, the exposition felt more obvious to me, and therefore, a bit clumsy. The character of Mark was obviously created for comedic relief, but there seemed to be no other reason for his character to go to Sweden with the group other than to ease the high tension that is present in “Midsommar” from the beginning.
Dani’s character is the only one that made the most sense to me. Florence Pugh’s portrayal of a character overtaken by grief is incredible and heartbreaking to watch. Her boyfriend Christian is so easy to hate that by the end of the movie, her transformation and induction into the cult made sense. Her life was completely destroyed, and she had to figure out how to start over. In order to go on with her life, she needed a support system that Christian could not provide for her. The women in the Swedish cult fully feel her pain with her, which leads toward her acceptance into the pagan group since she finally feels supported and understood.
Ultimately, this film shows the arc of Dani’s character from grief-stricken to comforted beautifully, even if the other characters fumble along behind her in terms of character development. For Dani’s heart wrenching journey along with the beautiful cinematography we have come to expect from Ari Aster, “Midsommar” is definitely worth watching, but only if you can handle an intense portrayal of murder suicide.
Filmnetic Grade: B