Midsommar

Whew

The most immediately striking aspect of MIDSOMMAR is its cinematography. After a bland prologue (both dramatically and visually) the screen is drenched in a blinding and oppressive Paas overexposure. The goal here is to become a vision of environmental harmony so staggering that it becomes uncanny, that our brain becomes lost in time. In reality, it just looks ugly and lacks any grace or variation, an over-correction against the all-too-common murkiness of modern film. 
Despite that single major aesthetic difference, however, nothing much here distinguishes this particular offering from Aster’s previous efforts. Instead of a domestic drama, this is the story of a Madwoman. Both use a visual style well-internalized from The Canon’s Masters, but Aster brings nothing beyond a decent synthesis, no ideas of his own. From the hallucinogenic sequences to the maniacal courting of mental illness fetishization, to the whole host of folkloric bedtime story caricatures, the literalism of this film’s world feels less than lived in, without the coziness of the best of its ilk. It’s boring more than tense, a bit of a dud on the pure technical construction the film is bizarrely reliant upon.
Midsommar is very, very funny about whiteness - clever and coy and effectively cartoonish, like Eudora Welty wrote a pulp novel. But Aster carries that writer’s dangerously complacent visions of race. Unlike a Todd Solondz, who, for the most part at least, engages a blanket whiteness as equally malicious and pathetic (his most recent effort drew a direct parallel between terrorism and film school), Aster instead employs generic novelistic tropes in a heightened setting and calls it perverse, a cheap shot if there ever was one. No real examination there. 
Midsommar has far more to recommend it than Hereditary, though it is arguably the weaker film. Pugh is talented but her performance here, though seriously unsettlingly, is seriously incongruous. The portion of the film about grief is woefully undeveloped and juvenile, entwined in exhausting and rigidly uninspired gendering. Ari Aster makes films about whiteness, and he knows that whiteness is both terrifying and amusing. But he is unaware of its crutches. He knows it is scary but does not uses the fact that he is not himself it’s target to any meaningful effect beyond a gleeful sadism.

Sam liked these reviews