Midsommar

Midsommar ★★★★

Well... this is gonna be a difficult movie to grade. I'll explain why I settled on four stars in just a second, but I want to preface this review by saying that I... wow, in this context, saying that I "loved" or "absolutely adored" this film kind of sounds depraved, to be honest. It's how I would describe my experience with this movie, but it's not really a movie you watch and enjoy. It's a movie that slowly builds its tension with absolutely horrifying sequences that don't take up the majority of the runtime. I was hooked from the opening scene, but after that, horror sequences don't start showing up for a while in this film. They're very sparse because, for the majority of the runtime, the film doesn't aim to traumatize you with gory imagery. It aims to build a sense of unease throughout the course of its runtime, slowly bubbling and bubbling until the final scene of this movie, which is one of the most out-there, completely over-the-top shocking, and terrifyingly strange climaxes I've ever seen in a movie. I'm definitely going to need to see this movie again because, by the end, I was completely confused, but there's part of me that knows that the way this film was directed, every development and moment in this film should make sense if I think about it more. I'm sure the puzzle pieces all fit together here somewhere, but I'm completely baffled as to how right now.

Okay, let me praise aspects of this movie that I know how to praise so that I can at least sound somewhat competent over the course of this review. The cinematography and direction are simply immaculate. Ari Aster directs the hell out of this film in what might be some of my favorite direction of all time. Every shot is perfectly planned out, every moment serving to build this unending sense of inner tension that I talked about earlier. To top it all off, the scenery here is absolutely gorgeous and the camerawork is incredible. Also, all of the acting here is pretty good, but of course, a special note needs to be given to Florence Pugh. Holy crap, what a performance. She was the main reason I was captured from scene 1. I genuinely think I have a celebrity crush on her now because not only is she gorgeous, but she is a fantastic actress. There were aspects of the other characters and their performances that did feel like they were speaking movie dialogue, but everything about Pugh's performance here felt perfectly natural, heartfelt, and authentic. She has to give so much emotional depth to her character here, and she pulled it off beautifully.

This film is gonna linger in my subconscious for a while, not only because of the beautiful shots and Florence Pugh's fantastic performance, but also because I want to figure out what in the world just happened. I want to be able to figure out all of the beats that were set up to lead to that ending because I guarantee you they're in this film. There's an image of a tapestry that appears at the beginning of this film that I'm pretty sure depicts all of the events that happen in it (although I couldn't confirm because I obviously hadn't seen the movie yet), and there's another tapestry that appears later that foreshadows an interaction between two characters later on. Now that I think about it, there's even something in the background of one of the scenes (where two characters are talking about a thesis, that's all I'll say) that foreshadows something that happens in the climax. I know the beats are there because I could tell just how deliberate Ari Aster was in his direction and how meticulous all of these shots are, but it honestly beats the hell out of me what all of it means. Because of that, I'm taking off a star. Why am I doing that for this movie and not for Punch Drunk Love? Because Punch Drunk Love's climax wasn't SOO out there that I had to re-evaluate what everything in the film meant prior to that climax. It felt tonally consistent and it sucked me in the entire time, even if I still need to analyze what that movie was truly trying to convey. Here, I will admit, some of the slow-burn elements of this film did cause me to check out a couple of times (although I think that's more my fault, not the movie's fault) and the climax is... seriously, what the hell happened in the climax?!?

So, yeah, I'm going to need to let this movie sit in my subconscious for a while. It is very possible and even very likely that when I see this movie again and figure out how they built up to the climax, my rating will raise up to 4.5, maybe even 5 stars. For now, though, I think I just need to let this one sit. As much as I loved Florence Pugh and the direction and the exploration of unhealthy relationships and Dani's character dealing with grief and how all of those elements were executed... I'm not 100% sure what I think after that climax. Wow, what a weird movie.

Letter Grade: A-

[Oh, actually, one more thing, everyone's American accents are spot-on here. Apparently, out of the primary actors, only William Jackson Harper grew up in America. Good lord, everyone's accent is so good.

Also, apparently there's a director's cut that was only cut because the film was originally given an NC-17 rating. I can't even imagine what experiencing that cut must be like.]

[Shoot, two days later and I realized I forgot to mention the incredible use of mirrors in this movie and how they enhance some of the conversations by not requiring cuts between them. Well, I guess I'll mention it now.]

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