Marna Larsen’s review published on Letterboxd:
At some point, I said for people to stop reminding me how young i am.
Poor you. All alone. All your family is dead. And so young, too.
Then, I realized that only boomers were saying that to me (some even sitting down to write it up in a card) and some probably are not even conscious of how judgmental this often sounds, as though not only is it better for them (my dead family) they are no longer alive and suffering but they clearly wonder what health problems will present themselves in me, proving some family trees are just rotten and it's not fair but that's just how it is.
Of course, they are also scared of what it means if the deaths are not somehow a bad genetic legacy because then, it could happen to them next week. Or their family. It's like how people have made pronouncements on if people are healthy enough to 'handle' Covid 19 as a way to sort others yet again into genetically inferior and genetically superior (as though that's ever worked out well for anyone). There is more than a hint of that type of thinking when people say, in a voice both sympathetic and shocked, how much cancer there seems to be in my family and I can't pretend that there isn't.
There's fear, too, that all the ways we are told we can predict a 'good' cancer outcome (if such a thing even exists) are bullshit and based on 'science' from at least fifty years ago. Maybe there is also a bit of fear of what happens when, because of the way you've built things, all the children you told weren't trying hard enough, weren't doing enough soon enough, weren't grabbing for advantages aggressively enough, will have no choice but to simply wait for you to die because no one is ever going to decide it's time; you've had enough.
Florence Pugh's character starts out smiling through her pain but at a certain point, it's too much and you can't do it anymore. You start saying shit that you think is true. It might even be true. Other people might even think it's true.
But they don't want to think about existing in that world even more than they are already forced to. They are trying to distract themselves from these cruel facts.
So are his friends even that bad? Would anyone advise someone forced into an old person relationship before they are ready to just break up with her already because that's not what you signed up for, dude?
In this case, they simply consider Dani to be breaking some unspoken promise that life won't get serious until X date. This mentality is not dissimilar from those who comfort themselves by implying someone somewhere planted a tree in the wrong part of the woods and that's why everyone around me has died.
It's fucked up and it's bullshit but i get the people who say that are desperately trying to hold onto years of good fortune and more than that, their entitlement to it. That their good health and happiness is somehow something they earned.
Their hearts may even be in a good place with the comment when taken to mean how unfair my being left alone is. Apparently, my one aunt had two husbands die on her and survived two cancers. I think she was just trying to tell me she understands it's never enough. Even when you have more time than X unlucky person, it won't be enough, either. You don't get used to being deprived of the people you have lost.
It isn't always just that if you hadn't broken up with them, you wouldn't have wound up burned alive in that hollowed out bear. It's that you will be alone more than we already always are. If you are the type of person who says 'well this isn't what i signed up for or i might sign up for this someday but i am too young to sign up for it right now' you love shallowly and that's something infinitely more broken than feeling the absolute horror of grief. If there were a message from this movie I wholeheartedly agree with, that might be it.
When I first saw it, I questioned Aster's placement into this young woman's narrative, his clearly thinking he could simply swap his similar experience with hers. A year ago, I would have said that no matter how powerful some of this movie manages to be, experiences don't work that way.
Now, I think pain is pain and loss is loss and those emotions are more universal than society wants us to believe. Though I did notice it is only the women participating in primal scream therapy with Dani.
Oh well. My point is, I truly believe gender is just a set of prescribed behaviors forced on us which is just as repressive to men in denying them grief as it is to women told they shouldn't be 'forced into science programs they clearly have no interest in' over their more deserving male colleagues (whichever professor said that and wasn't fired because people are entitled their gatekeeping opinions, even if directly harmful to the future of female students). I think the sort of pagan leaning gender essentialist views I once held were far more damaging than Asher's intentions with Dani, which I think came from a place of genuine empathy with loss.
Leaving a problem that is a lot trickier to solve which is how the twist pays off for women in these pagan narratives. I mean on the surface it seems great. Dani isn't just surrounded by a pack of insensitive dudes anymore. She doesn't have to deal with jerk bf's half assed affections. You want to fall into those last few minutes of vicious catharsis. Yet, if you move past the narcotic moment of the film's conclusion, you realize Dani will have to remain pregnant for at least ten years out of her remaining twenty and when she can't have any more children, she will be executed.
Especially now, I'm not comfortable with ANY buying into the exclusionary 'feminist' narrative that you are part of some divine legacy no one else can 'steal' from you (but only if you participate fully in every arbitrary feminine trait they have regurgitated from the bible and old television shows and only if you agree to go quietly away the second you are no longer worthy of procreation - or recreation because the society I live in, that's just as emphasized making things constantly, bizarrely hypocritical so at least paganism isn't against sexuality and sex). Still, I think paganism is just as guilty of dismissing who people are outside their anatomy as christianity which is why it's no longer a good fit for me.
Was never a good fit for me, yet I was stuck on the horror of forced uterine servitude; that gender essentialist powers were just as bad didn't occur to me until a bit later. Like, sometime when I was already querying the six thousandth nine hundred and ninety ninth version but since that too was met with a resounding no, I have decided to do a seven thousandth rewrite! Hooray! Maybe this time, I'll get it right.
I am also seriously considering ritual suicide over cancer treatment at this point but that may be a biased opinion considering.
Though another thing I find interesting is the idea that Dani's specialness to Pelle in the first place might simply be that the elderly 'move over' much more 'graciously' where he is from so everyone his age may have already 'lost' their parents versus how things are where Dani is from - the avoidance and denial that has made her an inadvertent outcast among her peer group.
In a way, I feel that. I didn't want my father to continue to suffer. I also needed the security to get out of a highly dangerous job, a security he couldn't give me while he was alive because despite not being a conservative, to a certain extent, he believed that if you pay someone to exist, they won't work and die to keep the economy going. This is something their generation believes to some extent, even those who claim to be liberal and I guess that didn't occur to me back then.
At the same time, the callousness I saw in the early days of the pandemic toward the elderly was just horrifying. Yet, I understood how people using that ghoulish boomer eraser tag felt.
Your parents could afford to have a home and to have children. You are not guaranteed that. For Millennials, the life the older generation has been telling us our whole lives is the only correct one is a luxury, something you will be denied unless you make every perfect decision and sometimes even then, you might not be able to afford it. Plus, Darwinist Capitalism is everywhere, was always everywhere around us growing up, to where we maybe can't help having absorbed it into our being.
I think Aster tapped into a lot of that here even better than in Hereditary yet what has happened in the two years since the film's release gave so much of this a worse yet more urgent meaning.
'No; i don't want new people right now. I'm just going to lay down, okay?'
Actually, forget everything else I just said. I'm clearly that guy. I just want to be that guy. And I can't do that if everyone over fifty keeps sending me cards, reminding me I'm cursed! I'm like, clearly aware of that, okay?
I also want to say happy birthday to Florence Pugh! And I never noticed Dani mumbling to herself that it's almost her birthday. I can tell you from experience, that never works. Or is it that people just won't wait to die until at least after my birthday?
Sorry. I'll stop ruining everyone's good time now. I wouldn't want anyone else more fortunate to enjoy their careless years less on account of my 'bad luck.'
And I'm not going to talk about it anymore so it's okay to stop avoiding me. If that's why and not just my terrible personality. In which case, I guess continue to do so??