'Midsommar' - Joe's Take
2019 | 18+ | 148mins | Dir: Ari Aster
A couple travels to Sweden to visit a rural hometown's fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.
Firstly, the cast are brilliant. The American characters are genuine talents who i've thoroughly enjoyed in some of their previous supporting roles so it's great to see them all pushed into the limelight together here. There is a necessary level of sweetness and sincerity to the members of the cult that Aster crafts effectively into the slower moments in between the horror to allow for them to slowly ease your confidence in them, almost forgetting some of the things you have witnessed prior. Most notable of course cast wise is Florence Pugh. She is just outstanding here in a performance that demands a lot from her emotionally as someone coping with guilt related to a family tragedy and the fragile relationship she has with her boyfriend.
Whilst the film certainly has its share of gore, Aster is far more interested in his characters psychological states and giving the viewer time to unpack each sequence. This attention is stretched throughout and for me forgave the films two and a half hour run time.
There is a great demonstration of subtle special effects in some of the films tenser sequences where the footage is being gently warped in a way that had me constantly second guessing my own eyesight. Additionally to the this the editing is constructed in a clever way that knows how to subvert your expectations, never quite giving you what you want or expect but what rather what you need to feel the right level of discomfort.
There are some themes that I felt were explored better than others. In particular a sequence earlier on which sets the film in motion, I didn't feel was as effectively explored as well as the relationship between the two leads although I am sure that after repeated viewings the film will certainly provide me with some realisations that I didn't have the first time through.
Certainly a film that some will hate due to its approach and runtime. Regardless, Midsommar is a great example of a film that is confidently in control of what it is doing differently to other films in the genre and should be watched by everyone.
STARRING: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Vilhelm Blomgren, William Jackson Harper, Will Poulter
BEST QUOTE: "So, we just gonna ignore the bear then?"
FUN FACT: Despite its Swedish setting, most of the film was shot in Hungary.
IF YOU LIKED: Hereditary, The Wicker Man