Midsommar ★★½

Aster clearly wanted to make this about the central relationship above all else, and while we get some great sequences throughout that focus on the couple’s stressfully uncomfortable dynamic, every other narrative detail reads as a rough sketch at best. 

No other character is interesting beyond Dani. Everyone is just the one thing they were in the treatment notes — comic relief, the smart friend, the creep, etc. The real bummer though is how two dimensional the world of this community are. Gorgeous costumes and sets aside, the actual writing of their faith practices feel like something that was made up as the script was written, no actual mapping out of customs and beliefs being done. The brief discussions of inbreeding, for instance, felt particularly egregious, using disability as a source of abject horror that felt like people being used as props. The intentions behind everything were so vague, and nearly all the gruesome bits felt like they were based on nothing at all, only existing for a cool visual.

The overexposed aesthetic is the best part about this, but unfortunately, by what felt like the 400th dinner scene in 2 hours, the visuals becomes rather redundant. It’s day time all the time, and everything begins to run together. I feel like Aster has proven himself to lose steam in his direction as his films progress — the pre-Sweden portion is so intricately crafted in terms of coverage, and then once we get things going, it all becomes pretty standard. There is a definite dynamism to some of the final sequences, but narratively, they had no impact on me still. Without getting into specifics, Dani’s arc provided me with no form of closure given how extreme what proceeded it is. It ultimately felt like a very passive, unexciting finale that just enforced some of the tropes Aster initially seemed to try and break.

Midsommar is long and underwritten, my greatest issue with it being that there simply are no unexpected turns taken. Whether or not you’ve seen the trailer, you know this film is going to be about a group of outsiders who experience horrific things in this Swedish community. It is exactly that, and nothing more. It just oscillates between somewhat dull and deeply unpleasant, but I never truly felt afraid. There’s a great movie to me made with this same premise, a couple on the verge of a break-up being wrapped up into this disturbing ritual, but none of it really fits together in the end. This needed a strong rewrite before it went to production.

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