“Midsommar” isn’t your typical love movie, however, this drama/thriller/(?) provides you with food for thought about love, relationships, sex, cultural differences and our highly individualistic culture. It’s also the most unsettling movie I’ve seen in ages so I definitely recommend that you watch it, even if it’s just to make up your mind about it.
Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian’s (Jack Reynor) relationship is on the rocks. She has a suicidal sister and requires constant mental support. He’s an emotionally distant 20-something young man who wants to have fun and figure out what he wants from life. When Dani’s sister delivers on her promise and kills herself, “taking their parents with her”, Dani falls into a deep depression.
A break-up seems like kind of a d*ck move so even though Christian isn’t happy in his relationship he decides to hang around in his standoffish manner. He even allows Dani to crash a boys trip to a summer celebration, Midsommar at a commune in Sweden, his friend Pelle hails from. And that’s, Rinsers, when the “fun” begins…
There were points when I was watching “Midsommar” with my mouth agape. It’s a very ummm… refreshing movie on many levels and I happily admit that I turned out to be wrong with all my guesses about where the story would go.
On one level, it’s a thriller or even a horror. There are some scary moments and parts of it that are gruesome and gross. Even in such moments, however, there’s some terrifying beauty in the images presented. Nothing is just one way or the other and the ambiguity is what makes the movie such a great source of reflection.
A big part of the appeal of this movie is that it presents us with a culture putting on its head what we consider acceptable. The customs of the commune when it comes to sex, relationships and the treatment of elders are wildly (yes, “wildly”) different. It would be easy to just dismiss them and call them barbaric but there’s much more thought put into the way such practices are presented to do just that.
Seeing that the boys from America are anthropology students, they try to approach what they see with an intellectual objectivity. They don’t necessarily judge it like the characters of “Extreme Engagement” but their attitude is that of scientific curiosity like Christiane Amanpour’s in “Sex and Love Around the World“.
Sure, it’s better than labelling everything as weird but now imagine you’re hosting a bunch of people at your home. How do you think you would feel if someone observed you closely like an ant under a magnifying glass, making notes about your behavior? Only Dani seems to be respectful and tries to simply embrace the new culture and participate in their traditions.
Dani’s behavior brings me to my next point about the movie, which is the depiction of how a mentally disturbed person deals with chaos and the unexpected. Without giving any spoilers I can tell that she’s okay with it, more so than other people who are seemingly in a better state of mind.
Lars von Trier in his 2011 movie “Melancholia” makes similar observations. He juxtaposes a calm sister with one who’s clinically depressed to show that it’s the latter who deals much better with the thought of the upcoming end of the world.
It’s an interesting point to make and from my experience it seems to be true. Perhaps in such situations the calm for people struggling with mental issues comes from the alignment of the state of chaos in their head finally matching what they see in front of their eyes.
“Midsommar” is also an interesting case study of a relationship that’s pretty much a sinking ship. It’s very clear since the beginning that Christian and Dani are not heading in the right direction.
Dani thinks she needs Christian and even though he’s quite a shit boyfriend, she’s trying to hold on to him as the last familiar thing she has left. Christian resents her but doesn’t have the guts to end the relationship, as if he was waiting for someone to do the dirty job for him.
Dani may be an irritating character initially with her “Fix me, please” invisible tattoo on her forehead. However, seeing that she’s the focal point of the narrative we start to feel for her. Such sentiments are certainly reinforced by the fact that Christian’s lack of morals becomes more and more apparent (and appalling!) throughout the movie.
Perhaps the movie is even fresher thanks to the cast, compiled from a bunch of somewhat to not-at-all known actors. They do a great job, though. It’s nothing close to your typical American horror movie in this respect.
I also like the minimalistic soundtrack that adds to the mysterious atmosphere of the upcoming doom.
Last but not least, the shots are very pretty and so are the costumes. The movie is shot mostly in two locations but the small size of the commune helps with the feeling of claustrophobia that the audience is supposed to share with the characters.
It’s an 8/10 from me. Now I’m hoping to become brave enough one day to watch the previous movie by Ari Aster, “Hereditary”.
Have you seen “Midsommar” yet, Dear Rinser? If yes, please let me know what you think. If no, do you ever watch movies classified as “scary”? Can you see past the labels and still appreciate their artistic value?