Midsommar ★★★★

Strap in, drink some tea, and chant yourself into an air of artistic expression as I rant my way through Midsommar:

No artist exists within a vacuum and how Aster incorporates his clear inspirations is fluid. From Tarkovsky to Bergman, the man understands the language of film and utilizes the methods of visual storytelling better than most. Down to the accurate use of symbology, to the tableaux storyboarding, and small details like background paintings and set design being so integral to the story itself. 

There I was, sitting in the theater with a giant ball of anguish in the back of my throat, so invested in Dani’s pain and awkwardness to not be a broken person. There is no doubt that Aster knows how to convey pain and sorrow. If you’re not invested in Dani, you’re not going to enjoy the journey — that’s just the heart of it, really. Dani isn’t a caricature of a woman. She’s not a trope like a femme fatale or badass bitch, she’s just Dani and that’s really important here. Every piece is around the story of Dani’s grief and transformation — which is where I’ll state it differs itself from Wicker Man

I understand reservations on this film. The characters can come off as two-dimensional (to which I reply, but look at the horror tropes of all “teenage trip” films!) where each character embarks on their own Charlie and the Chocolate Factory moral lesson. Also, unlike Hereditary, the majority of the plot is either anticipated or we are told what is coming. 

For me, the visual storytelling outweighs these criticisms because for other films that try those techniques, they won’t punch you in the throat (maybe except Yorgos...) How usually I’ll yell, “oh yeah!!!” to gorey footage, while here I felt genuine discomfort and grief. The emotional impact and effectiveness of its direction to tell its story. It’s how at the end, I actually cried knowing Dani could finally put the past behind her...

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