Midsommar ★★★★

I think I've weeded through the annoyance of my theater experience last night to put down my thoughts on the movie. I still have every intention of giving it a rewatch when it's available at home both so I can have a better viewing experience but also uncover more about this movie cause there is a lot here.

Midsommar is a beautifully strange trip and I do mean incredibly strange. There's a point in the movie where the camera flips upside down as the characters approach the small Swedish commune where this festival takes place. This signals to the audience that they are entering into something that is going to challenge them and their preconceptions about morality, spirituality and relationships. Those three things are the main thematic areas of the film. They're explored in incredibly subtle ways, to the point I'm probably reading into them more than the director really wants me to or he really did plant those seeds in the film so they would blossom into this complex ideas about family, life and nature.

Ari Aster, on a purely technical level, is already showing to be a master of craft. His camera movements and framing are impeccable. His control over what he does and doesn't want you to see shines through. He also obviously worked very closely with his editors because the editing here feels incredibly purposeful. As is probably already evident from any promotional material, the film is gorgeous to behold. The entire aesthetic of a pagan village in Sweden lends itself to amazing sets, costumes, flora and fauna. Everything about the technical prowess of this film screams craftsmanship.

Florence Pugh is fucking incredible in this role. She is able to express and emote in such subtle and natural ways. There's a wealth of emotional trauma for her to dive into with her character and she goes deep especially when you talk about the relationship she has with Jack Reynor's character. Their relationship also feels very lived in and like relationships I've seen and experience to the point watching them fight felt way too real and made me more uncomfortable than some of the more grisly and unsettling images Aster shows you during the course of the film.

I think what makes this film the most interesting for me is how thoroughly this pagan cult is explored. I'd be really curious how much research Aster and his team did on actual pagan religions and rituals to form this twisted cult of naturalists and spiritualist. There is so much detail given to the traditions, ceremonies and, I guess, world that these people live in. That in its own right makes this a really engaging and fascinating watch.

As for criticisms about the film, I think it could have been cut down a decent amount. It does definitely feel it's length by the end though the slower pace at the beginning really helped set the stage and establish the characters and relationships in the film which made the unraveling of them at the end way more punchy. I'm not sure all the thematic ties come together though I feel a second or third viewing might reveal something more about the film especially it's third act.

This isn't so much a criticism as much as a warning but for me, this movie is more in line with a dark fairy tale a la the original Brother's Grimm stories or something like Pan's Labyrinth than an outright horror movie. I think having that expectation will also change how someone views this film.

Luckily a crappy audience wasn't enough to ruin this movie for me and I was able to still get a lot out of it. I will completely understand those that hate this movie but I do implore anyone that has an interest in more artfully minded films or just enjoys a unique movie experience to give this a go even if they have to shut it off or walk out.

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