This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
chris 🔪’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
"Mom!" I yell as I swing my bedroom door open.
I sprint into the living room to find my mom as I usually do — sitting on the recliner with one of the cats sleeping in her lap. "Yes?" she asks with a kind of uninterest in her voice.
"Okay," I start, "So you know how I just saw Midsommar for a second time with my friend?"
"Well, I just found out AMC is putting out the director's cut for one weekend only and it just so happens to be my birthday weekend!"
She looks at me, still uninterested. "Okay?"
"I know you and Dad didn't love the movie as much as I did, but would y'all consider just sacrificing three hours of your life so I can see this?"
"I don't know. Your dad has a football thing to go to and I'm not interested in seeing it again."
I look at her with sadness. "Okay."
My hopes of being able to see the director's cut of my favorite movie of 2019 were just destroyed.
But then I had a thought. How had I not thought of this earlier? I should just ask one of my friends to go with me. It took me a few tries — one wasn't interested in seeing the movie, the other one didn't have any money because she spends every cent she gets on weed — but I finally found a friend who was genuinely interested in seeing this movie with me.
So as we sat in our seats — H3 and H4 — I was ready to embrace this 30-minute-longer cut with open arms. And it didn't disappoint.
For starters, it was a bit surprising to see the theater as packed as it was — the theater was more packed tonight than it was when I went with my mom and dad the day after the movie opened. I was happy to see the movie finally get the public recognition it so rightly deserved. As the lights dimmed and the A24 logo came on the screen, I couldn't stop smiling. I have no idea why. But I did.
I still love how Ari Aster straight-up spoils the entire movie with the opening mural — unbeknownst to a first-time viewer; upon a second viewing, you realize how wonderfully it sums up the movie. Then soon after we get to the scene of Dani crying while Christian holds her — albeit out of obligation, but still holding her. Even if she knows he's pulling away, she seems to be slightly comforted and less alone in the presence of Christian, even if he is a shitty boyfriend with shitty friends.
I thought the pieces that were added for this director's cut really helped flesh out the characters more and deepened the rockiness of Dani and Christian's relationship — it seems to be in even worse condition in the beginning than in the theatrical cut. And none of it would be convincing if it weren't for Florence Pugh — who gives an Oscar-worthy performance (even if we do know she won't be getting a nomination because we all know how the Academy likes to turn away from horror movies unless they're called Get Out) — and Jack Reynor, who is surprisingly excellent at playing an asshole.
Will Poulter, William Jackson Harper, and Vilhelm Blomgren are also really good in the roles they play. Will Poulter plays Mark, the horned-out, vaping, wise-cracking asshole who is incredibly critical of Dani and how she acts towards him. Poulter is fantastic when it comes to comedic timing; he had the entire theater in stitches, especially with the extra line involving "three clits!" William Jackson Harper plays Josh, the scholar who is arguably the most excited, apart from Pelle, to be going to Sweden, as he is doing his thesis on Midsommar traditions. That part of him comes to a head when Christian reveals his plan to also do his thesis on this Midsommar festival. And then we move on to Vilhelm Blomgren, who plays Pelle, a man who grew up in the commune they visit. He is very good at playing innocent but also somehow giving off a vibe that something isn't totally right with him.
I always had a theory that Pelle orchestrated the entirety of the film. First off, the murder-suicide of Dani's sister and parents looked way too staged. Second, with the insertion of an extended shot in the apartment when everyone finds out Dani is going to Sweden with them, Pelle stares at Dani for an uncomfortable amount of time. Then he tells her he was "most excited for [Dani] to come" despite the fact that she wasn't even initially invited? I dunno, I may be looking too into this but it'd make total sense and I wish Ari Aster will address this in the future.
But something this director's cut does so well is making the ending feel much more cathartic, satisfying, and — in a rather disturbing sense — freeing. Dani is now rid of all toxicity in her life, and the only people who will accept her now is the commune. She's accepted the fact that Christian is and always was a shitty boyfriend towards her and, even when given the choice of sacrificing a random cult member or Christian, it feels so satisfying to see her specifically pick him. Midsommar is very much a film about codependency but it's also one about acceptance and family. The cult quickly accepts the group into their small community — even though all of them except Dani end up being killed by the end — and eventually is considered a part of their family. I was kind of disturbed with myself when I realized I was smiling along with Dani watching Christian burn to death, watching the fatality of the final piece of negativity in her life. And I'm sure I wasn't the only person in the theater smiling along with her.
In conclusion, I feel like this longer cut made me appreciate the film even deeper and this definitely has no competition of being the best movie of 2019. But I end this with two questions: Do you feel held by him? Does he feel like home to you?