Midsommar ★★★★½

Definitely still prefer Hereditary for its more singular focus on genre, characters, & concise pacing. Not to say that Midsommar’s bad for lacking these things, on the contrary as I find it adds to its unique appeal, though I find its narrative more inert, especially in the middle. Very excited for the director’s cut, though also worried by its potentially daunting length. Aster creates a movie that’s as genre defying as it is genre defining, with the latter slightly disappointing as he goes a little too far with some minor elements (Simon’s nasty fate). There’s no doubt in my mind that Christian deserves what’s coming to him, but it does seem like he was written to suck, which is cynical. Some minor stuff is left unresolved too (Connie’s fate, Mark’s fate).

Otherwise, what an original cinematic experience! This really isn’t a horror movie, aping a feel more in line with Refn a la The Neon Demon than The Wicker Man. It’s rather calming in many regards, & I found myself empathizing with the cult moreso than before. I love the opening & its sound design; we’re shown these gorgeous static winter shots with lovely singing, before the ringing of a telephone attacks, screaming & interrupting the tranquility. This conveys the theme of disruption; the idyllic peace of the cult is ruined by the incursion of the Americans. What Ari does so incredibly is avoid cutting, just letting some shots go on endlessly; the coordination & performances are resultantly incredible & authentic. Diegesis is played around with extremely creatively, which I adore. The production design is god tier, even before we get to Sweden; the attention to detail in Dani’s room alone is impressive. The score is alien, as calming & cool as it is abstract & otherworldly as it is lush & grandiose. Seems like Ari excels at directing non American actresses to put forth truly gamechanging work. And like Hereditary, Aster MAKES movies to be rewatched. His fatalist sensibilities are back, as the entire opening before the credits/title card are drenched in awful dread if you know the outcome. The way the camera zooms out the window & then zooms back into Dani’s room after the title card shows the passage of time in that it’s no longer snowing, while also being a great jump cut. The structure being dominated by the omnipresent sun makes this a film that feels easy to get lost in, similar to The Shining. Will Poulter made me laugh more, & the characters overall made more sense, now that I knew their direction. Liked the ripple effects more too, making this a psychedelic film.

When I first saw this, it was just my friend & I in the theatre. This time, a solid crowd turned out at the Oriental, & they really dug it, which pleasantly surprised me. During the sex scene, they were losing it with laughter! Genuinely a riot.

Jake Rosenberg liked these reviews