Midsommar

Midsommar ★★★★

I just wrote this whole review and Letterboxd deleted it, so now I'm writing it again (and hopefully not leaving things out).

I just saw the director's cut, and I'm glad I caught it during its last night in theaters. I didn't think this version felt longer than the theatrical cut, but based on the changes made in this version I actually prefer this version to the theatrical cut and as a result don't mind the longer length. I was actually surprised to see some of the footage added in this version was cut from the previous version. By adding just 24 minutes of footage, the director's cut is certainly an improved version of the film. In these minutes, it packs in much detail and development that was lacking in the theatrical cut.

Because I saw the theatrical version when it first came to theaters, I couldn't recall whether some smaller moments had been included in that version. However, there were many noticeable changes that really added to the film. The most significant changes I noticed were the increased focus on the relationship between Dani and Christian and the additional development of the thesis rivalry subplot. In the director's cut, Christian's interest in choosing the festival as his thesis subject is hinted early in the film (I liked that they introduced this subplot early), and there were other exchanges added that helped develop this subplot steadily as the film progressed. There were also several added exchanges between Dani and Christian that provided more insight into their relationship. The most significant exchange added, which I was surprised was cut from the theatrical version since it was very revealing and added depth to the characters, was an instrumental scene in which Dani and Christian actually confront each other about their feelings towards each other and their relationship.

As I watched, I was also looking to see how well the additional footage was incorporated into the film. It sometimes felt that Dani and Christian went from hating each other to loving each other too sporadically (which might have actually been a good thing now that I think about the nature of their relationship, but there were still some bits that felt too unnatural). Additionally, I was a bit confused by the placement of a new ritual scene. In the theatrical cut, Simon and Connie try to leave to leave after the scene where the two individuals jump off of the cliff (probably the most gory scene in the film). However, because the added ritual scene takes place immediately after the cliff scene, and because it is less intense than the previous scene (in the new scene, they decide not to actually sacrifice the person), Simon and Connie try to leave after the second, less intense ritual in this version. I think it makes more sense for them to leave after they actually sacrifice people, since while the new scene is still messed up (they were going to sacrifice a child and the only reason why they don’t is because he is brave), the previous scene just feels more intense to me. Maybe it’s because we also see more of their reactions after the cliff scene, too.

This version also gives the audience new details about the world (information that was interesting to learn but does not actually impact the meaning of the film), and there were also some additional ritual scenes that were interesting to see. Overall, the director's cut is not a radically different film than the theatrical cut and is in fact very much the same. What makes it better is that this version enhanced the already good theatrical cut by adding more depth, better tying things together, answering many of the questions I was asking myself when I initially watched the film, and by further developing what was already in the theatrical cut.

Ratings:
Theatrical Cut: 3.5/5
Director's Cut: 4/5

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