Midsommar (2019) Review
Midsommar (2019). dir Ari Aster
Ari Aster blew up on the scene with last years Hereditary, A24 bolstered his feature film directorial debut on the big screen to the sound of endless applause. I went into the film with high expectations, perhaps to the films detriment as soon I found myself disappointed.
But the film portrayed all signs of a top class horror flick and more, it brought a new level of artistry in the visual form and further depth in character that is regularly neglected in the genre, however still in the end I felt rather let down. The films first act starts incredibly strong to the point I believe this is the film I heard about but shortly after It trips in the common path of the generic horror subclass of film.
While the film fell short of my expectations what it did do was ensure that I had a ticket to Ari Aster‘s next feature. And while sitting in the darkened theatre with fellow viewers, ice cold coke to the left cup holder and the 13:50 Midsommar ticket stub in the right hand, the time had come.
Midsommar follows Dani and her boyfriend Christian played by Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor as they embark on a trip to a Swedish rural hometown mid-summer festival, what begins as a carefree trip to a blissful idyllic society takes a sinister visceral turn.
The film begins much like Hereditary, incredibly strong with a dark and gloomy shocking nightmare of intrigue and distress, the ball is rolling before we are transported into the bright and colourful trips of the mid-summer festival. The story from there unravels with discomfort to the daytime backdrop, ‘that can’t be right, the sky is blue’. Quite rightly said as we move further and further down the rabbit hole. But where Hereditary fails, Midsommar succeeds, the intrigue and interest is sustained through the full film till the last shot.
Ari Aster succeeds in creating a viscerally disturbing and emotional tale of love under the guise of a wicker man like cult tale. What is created is a beautiful decoration of bizarre and callous acts set in the scrim of the mid-summer light. Florence Pugh performs an incredible show of fear and trauma for what has been called the most disturbing break up film ever as it points it sights on eye of failing relationships and studious bravado.
However despite being only twenty minutes longer than Hereditary it’s feels almost an hour longer, where hereditary’s pacing helps it feel less the opposite to be said of Midsommar. But in this case it works to benefit the films success, Ari crafts this films scenes in an air of unease as the bottle is ready to blow with each shake for a fiery cathartic end.
Ari Aster creates a film that excels in each strong suit presented in the previous, his consistently visually stunning direction of images created is a joy to watch, the writing creates real and relatable characters with common problems on the back of sinister schemes in an intriguing oxymoron of thematic elements. The music choices and lack thereof at points show brilliant restraint in what could be cheapened there with.
Midsommar is a beautiful blossom of slow sinister action with real drama, a visually brilliant psychedelic trip from the explosive beginning to the purgatory end met with incredible direction and acting, in an intriguing tale of love and trauma.