Gary Liew’s review published on Letterboxd:
Midsommar is basically the last 5 mins of Hereditary turned into a full- length film, or Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, but without the thrilling chase part.
I liked this, didn’t love it. While I appreciate a good slow-burn, & I certainly enjoyed the moody atmosphere & building of dread exquisitely rendered by Ari Aster, there’s a point in the movie where I expected things to accelerate but it really didn’t, remaining in that slow-burn pace that I unfortunately got a little restless of.
There are certainly themes that Ari Aster is getting at, which either got lost or weren’t as honed in on by the end. One of which is the relationship aspect between Pugh & Reynor which forms the backbone of this film. Aster nails the awkwardness and repressed hidden resentment of being in a relationship on a verge of a breakup & the messy, loaded dirty looks that couples give to each other, wondering why they put up with each other. Or the insecure, parasitical clingy-ness of partners who latch themselves onto each other leading to a toxic, destructive downward spiral. There’s a scary realness to the depiction of their relationship, no doubt inspired by Aster’s real-life breakup.
What Aster seems to be fascinated with more than the relationship stuff appears to be cult-rituals, it seems. There’s an over-indulgence of cult rituals here that will either make or break the audience. Despite that all the rituals are created in fantastically-staged tableaus with some really gorgeous set designs & cinematography, juxtaposed with really creepy visuals & suggestively off-putting imagery.
There’s no denying, the craftsmanship in this was excellent. It‘s almost rare these days to watch a movie & feel “Wow, they really storyboarded the heck out of this”. & that’s the feeling I got from Midsommar. Almost every shot, a lot of which rely on long takes & intricate timing & movement of actors, props & cameras, feel like they have been meticulously planned. The augmentation of objects during the drug-trip sequences were pretty well-done. The music is awesome & adds so much to the skin-crawling suspense.
Personally, Hereditary was a much more focused & cohesive film, & one I’m certain I’ll revisit again soon, something I can’t say for this. Rewatchability is a huge factor in my enjoyment of a film, & I can say with absolute certainty that I will probably never watch this film again.
That said, this is one of the weirdest & most awkward theatrical experiences I’ve ever had, & I’m glad I was able to watch this in a packed theatre with my one-time watch of this movie. It is most certainly worth it for that one scene that had the loudest, longest-sustained laughter from a crowd that I’ve had all year.
It’s a scene that involves a bed of roses, a pair of old woman hands & a young man’s rosy butt cheeks - a winning combination of ingredients for comedy, it seems, one I never thought I’d find in a horror movie.