Midsommar ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

This film is truly beautiful. Visually it is stunning, but the care and profundity of how it deals with loss and trauma is most beautiful. Ari Aster has engineered a story that upends your sense of family, tradition, life, and death by dropping us into a world that is unlike our own.

The scene where Dani is on the phone with her boyfriend Chris, the scene lingers so long you can’t help but study her face and the emotion that she expresses. So much of this movie is understanding what she is feeling and it is often communicated strictly through her facial expressions. This scene equips you for what comes after.

Then the depiction of winter and the stark transition we eventually have to summer in Sweden. It was so beautiful. I loved the opening and seeing the landscape that would be transformed later.

The construction of Dani and Chris’s relationship was amazing. Everything important between them was what was not being said. I was blown away how defined Chris as a character was. He always deferred to Dani, but you could tell that he always wanted the opposite. How he was there to comfort her, but was entirely disconnected in every way. How he refused to take ownership, always took the easy way out, never was real with her and was just going through the motions. This is solidified when you see him do the same thing to Chris about the thesis. You see Dani coming to this realization during the May Queen dance. It was perfect. The subtlety in this film is next level.

I loved the contrast between the americans descriptions and perspective versus the villagers. Chris at one point said “I don’t want to have a bad trip.” but the villagers never describe any of it as a drug infused experience. There was a genuine openness and purity to the way they acted and spoke that I loved. Except maybe when they lied about killing the americans.

When Dani ran away from Pelle when he first shares his loss and brings up the death of her parents and sister, and how she runs away. Then she runs away from him in the dorm when he confronts her for a second time. She holds in her tears after attestupa and only until she is alone can let it out. She tries to do the same thing when she sees Chris in the sex ritual, but her new family refuses to let her bare it alone. They follow her and cry with her. I cried at this scene, it was just incredibly beautiful in showing how pain and trauma does not need to be carried alone. Her new family were there for her. This is in stark contrast to what Dani’s sister Terri experienced. We see Terri in a dark suburb, in a dead house, with a mother and father behind closed doors separated from each other. Terri is crying out for help to her sister through a DM, who has a boyfriend telling her that her sister is a leech. Whew boy.

I love when Pelle tries to describe what celebration is, but the best he can do is describe it as a “performance” because there really is not a word for what takes place. This all seems so horrifying to the americans, but is it really? If you had a profoundly different perspective on life and death, would it be so strange? Even the killing of the guests seemed understood as not malicious. Death means something different to the community. Normal is relative to experience, and I’m sure that parts of our culture and traditions would be shocking to those outside of it. I couldn’t help but think of how these traditions would look like in the U.S., stripped of all meaning and turned into a vain act of consumerism. I can see the flower headdress selling at 7-Eleven for $4.99 now.

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