Midsommar ★★★★★

Last year, my girlfriend and I watched Midsommar in an empty theater, and we were thrilled and disturbed. It was an all-time favorite for both of us. Now, with A24’s release of their collector’s edition director’s cut, we have watched this floral bad trip for a second time. 

This is a film about support and manipulation. On the surface, it’s easy to simply see it as a break-up movie mixed in with tropes of cults, but Ari Aster expertly subverts your expectations and makes this about so much more. There is often debate about the morality of the film, if the ending is justified. Sure, that is interesting and important, but the analysis can go far deeper into the culture and psyche of the topics presented. 

Aster critiques Western ideologies by putting them in stark juxtaposition with that of communal life. The men in this film, mainly Dani’s boyfriend Christian, are competitive, emotional distant and immature, and disrespectful of outside cultures. While showing the West as a place lacking support for women, trauma, and the mentally ill, Aster also explores how easy it is for an all-white tradition-based cult to manipulate those who are hurt by the insensitivity of America and other imperial nations into joining a cult with a beautiful aesthetic and support system but awful practices and motives. 

In the end, the toxic masculinity and lack of support for Dani leads to a false sense of catharsis, yet in many ways those who burn bright reaped what they sowed.

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