Rafael Félix’s review published on Letterboxd:
After Hereditary (2018), if Ari Aster made a soap opera called Grandma’s Kiss starring Nicolas Cage, I would see it with no hesitation, and I would ask for a second season. So, you can guess, my expectations were very high when I entered the theater, to see Midsommar. Normally it is easy for me to go in cautious even for a film that I’m absurdly anxious to see, but in the case of this and The Lighthouse (2019), I would be lying if I said that my vision couldn’t be partially clouded by the hype, for the best or worst. Fortunately, that wasn't the case.
Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor), a couple on the verge of collapse, travel to Sweden to visit the community of one of their friends and participate in the rituals celebrating the summer solstice. But what begins with
flowers and smiles, quickly starts to transform into the festival of horrors we could expect out of a Ari Aster film.
Midsommar pulls more influences from The Strange Thing about the Johnsons, the short film Ari made back in 2011, than Hereditary. In the sense that this film is, without any doubt, a mixed horror film with a valiant dose of humor for the whole family... Provided that all constituents are over 16 years old and have stomach for hardcore taxidermy.
It is always difficult to measure the "funnyness" of something, especially when you have a room full of laughter and the mood that is created is prone to dragging laughter that in the solitude of the room might not appear, hence my current cynicism. A second view on the comfort of my couch will be able to draw my doubts, but I would risk saying that it is mostly successful in what it tries to do by mixing these two tones which, although similar, do not have easy coexistence.
Being such a long film and taking its time to dive into the gruesome (although when it does, it is full-on batshit), there is something you can lose in the less efficient changes of tone, a risk always present when trying something like this.
It is already common theme, the dysfunctional families, in Aster’s films, and although this theme is also of total importance to the narrative, in fact this is more a break-up movie, as Ari himself admitted, taking inspiration from a relationship that had ended at the time the project came to him.
There is a chronic sadness present in the two central characters, both in completely opposite extremes of what you can call the "love meter". Goes from the possessive indifference to the possessive need for attention. It makes a interesting parallelism that ends up directing the whole film, but it is clear that the goal is not to find a solution to this type of unilateral relations, but to give almost a "divine punishment" to the part of which the director has less sympathy. An artistic vendetta. Sounds better than telling your ex “Fuck off, I hate you”.
This part ends up removing some of the depth given on the mythology of Hårga, which would be lacking to make everything a little more immersive. Because there is, and purposely, always a spiritual distance between the outsiders and the inhabitants, and yes, the fear of the unknown works quite well, but only to a certain extent. Given the film is almost 2:30, it needed a little more light (pun intended) in this whole strand to give a final glow to the movie.
Speaking of light. The main marketing piece for Midsommar was "look, you see, it's a horror movie that doesn't go through dark rooms." This is not enough on its own, but if we combine this with Ari Aster's strange obsession with flat-shots that seem to be taken from a dollhouse, comical hard cuts, the soundtrack that has often led me to The VVitch (2015) and to all the magnificent sets and dresses that seem to have been hand made by Grandma (this if Grandma belongs to a Swedish pagan cult), the film eventually gains a very unique atmosphere that would not be possible if it had the same type of chromatically depressive tone of Hereditary. So yes, its justified the emphasis on being totally filmed during the day.
The director's second feature film has a difficult target audience to point out. It does not point to the fright, but to the weird, and simultaneously wants the viewer to laugh in an uncomfortable way. It is a precarious balance that can either fall into the ridicule of indifference, or it may fall into a complete amazing and feeling of trance. It will not please everyone, but it will hardly leave anyone indifferent.
Still, there's an audience that's going to love this movie: the fans of Florence Pugh’s cry. It’s a most see for you guys.