This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
halley’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Went to a 10 pm showing of this last night, went to bed right after I got home, and of course had weird dreams about skin and bears and flowers.
Before my second viewing of this, I had hoped that I would understand Aster's choice of pacing and characterization a bit more, and I definitely did. It's methodical. It reminds me of those old black-and-white movies that show a calendar's pages flipping by to signify the passing of time. Aside from the first act, the entire movie takes place over the course of just a couple of days, and it takes its time because of it. I appreciate that now.
A few things I noticed/thought about after watching it this time:
- Midsommar is a movie about the anxieties of the modern world by showing Dani's gradual embrace of an ancient society that prizes nature. It reminds me of the utopian and transcendentalist responses to the Industrial Revolution, how people like Ralph Waldo Emerson decided to exalt nature to symbolize returning to a society that was untarnished by modernity and technology. Dani's feelings of isolation and grief were only exacerbated by the impersonal city in which she lived. Once she is exposed to the age-old rituals of the Hårga (communalism, reverence of nature, lack of technology), she is finally able to begin her recovery.
-Dani's parents have a portrait of her by the bed, on top of which is a flower crown made with yellow flowers, just like the one she wears during her dance around Maypole.
-There's a portrait of the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz in Mark's apartment... Aster's nod to Mark's fate later in the film.
-I don't think that Christian's name was just chosen by happenstance by Aster. When Dani chooses Christian to die over the Hårgan man, she effectively rejects Christianity (and the norms of her previous life), so to speak.
-It's interesting how smoke/gas is used in the film to signify grief:
-->During the Ardor tragedy, their house is filled with exhaust and the doors are literally taped shut, containing the exhaust. After the incident, Dani almost completely contains her pain and suffering.
-->After the Hårga burn the corpses of their elders after their suicide, they place the ashes by their ancestral tree-- signifying the importance of nature in the grieving process.
-->During Dani's nightmare, she is filled with black smoke and releases it only via a silent wail.
-->And finally, as the temple burns, it collapses, releasing smoke into the air and causing Dani to practically hack up a lung. She has effectively released her pain and trauma and can begin to move on as one of the Hårga.
Weirdly enough, Midsommar was terrifying upon second viewing (the first time around, I wasn't particularly scared). Once again, Ari Aster has freaked me out. I can't wait to see how he will do that next.