This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
mari’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
As long as I've been a part of the dating scene, men have always told me the same things, with little variation. "You're too emotional." "Get a grip." "I'm not your therapist." And as long as that's been happening, I've been struggling trying to understand just what I've been doing wrong in these relationships. Was I leaning too much on him? Was I being too clingy? Was I hurting someone simply by loving too hard? These questions would build like roadways in my mind that eventually led to a neverending roundabout that was impossible to escape with each waking moment of daylight. Was I too much? Eventually, I started to believe the things I was told about myself. Perhaps I was a liability to him. Maybe I was just too much to handle. It had to be my fault. I blamed myself and my head would repeat the words over and over until my brain was permanently graffitied by the consistent lack of emotional support I received from each of my partners. I wasn't going to be able to handle another man telling me I was the root of all his problems when I was simply trying to be good for him. I wasn't going to be able to handle another breakup where I had to hide how I truly felt simply because I had been led to believe that my emotions were wrong. Crying wasn't a purging of emotional baggage, but a sign of weakness. "Quit crying and blaming me for everything." If I had to hear "quit crying," again, I was going to lose it. When was I going to regain my agency? Never. But, I was able to gain catharsis.
Bloody, flame-engulfed, catharsis.
Watching Dani lose her mind and pick Christian for the sacrifice at the end of Midsommar shouldn't be comforting. But, it is. We've watched her suffer through unspeakable tragedy, and deal with constant toxicity, manipulation, and gaslighting from her seemingly sweet, charming boyfriend, Christian. But, as we all know, looks can be, and are deceiving. Christian is a liar, manipulator, and a cheater, and through it all does nothing to help Dani along her journey through neverending grief, aside from inviting her to come to sweden, which isn't even done to be helpful to Dani, but rather out of Christian's own self interest and his willing to get Dani off his back about not telling her he wanted to go in the first place.
Dani is constantly shoved carelessly to the side by Christian, and is never shown any empathy about her situation by him, either. She is shown sympathy, but the only time she is shown true empathy by anyone in the film (apart from the group therapy session), is when she speaks with Pelle, the friend from the cult who invited them to come to Sweden in the first place. He tells her he understands her pain, and that his parents had died when he was just a boy. He empathizes with her. He understands her grief and her pain, despite not having been put into the same exact situation as Dani, as he had his "family" to get him through it, while she had no one. The exchange where these details are revealed make the ending even more satisfying, because it truly shows that she has found family in Pelle and the cult. While it's an insane allegory for real world relationships, Midsommar is a dreamy catharsis fairy-tale, soaked in a languid sunshine. Its ending feels right. It feels justified. seeing this character who has gone through such pain and trauma finally get a say in how her story ends, is emotionally purgative, and ties even deeper to one of the main themes within the film: the brightest light casts the darkest shadow. what seems ugly and sick on the outside, can be just the opposite, and vice versa.
Shitty relationships are inevitable. They're awful. But, inevitable, nevertheless. But, that doesn't mean you have to be constantly suffering from them. If Midsommar helped me do anything, it helped me let go. It helped me let go of all the negativity and toxicity that were brought into my life by shitty breakups, and it helped me to exorcise and purge the demons of my past relationships that have been haunting me for years and years. Midsommar taught me that I am, in fact, enough. And that I don't need the manipulation of a partner to make me happy. Thank you Ari Aster, and Happy Midsommar.