Midsommar ★★★½

Ari Aster’s sophomore effort really is a touching film about finding a family and purging oneself from the toxicity of a unreciprocated relationship, an empowering tale of self-love. It’s also a sun-soaked nightmare filled with evocative imagery that you won’t be able to forget (and you’ll very much want to). Midsommar’s strengths are often also its biggest weaknesses: Aster’s unconditionally fulfilled vision. The film isn’t particularly deep, the think-piece on modern relationships wrapped around a folk-tale it aims to be, but Aster’s aesthetics and sense of pace command the viewer’s attention (if not always his interest), from the bleak opening all the way to the explosion of light and color that gracefully ends the film. The journey is a hypnotic one, fluidity personified in filmmaking terms. Unfortunately, the technical prowess attracts a little too much attention to itself without adding narrative insight. It can be frustrating. Also distracting, especially considering the film's runtime. I don’t particularly care how long a film is, but I care how long it feels. Midsommar falls in the latter category. In the second half, there’s a sense that despite the beauty and violence presented, we’ve been here before, and we can tell this is where we’ll be again. Perhaps that’s purposeful, akin to the cycle of a bad trip. Ultimately, however, Midsommar doesn’t effectively communicate it. Aster’s ambition might not always be supported by a strong script, but it certainly is given life by Florence Pugh’s terrific performance, an exquisite interpreter who once again delivers the goods, navigating through grief and utter disbelief with the impressive dedication. The consistently great Jack Reynor also shines as her selfish and slightly aloof boyfriend. In the end, though, the most unexpected quality about Midsommar is just how funny the film can be, especially when Will Poulter’s around. Aster's film is far from perfect, yet a consistently fascinating experience. Undoubtedly a film to be experience on the big screen.

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