Dir; Ari Aster. Starring; Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper. R. Color. 147 min.
I will always preface my reviews of director Ari Aster‘s films. I know him as an old friend from film school and saw his condescendingly dick-ish first freshman short film to his amazing AFI grad school qualifying senior project “A Tale of Two Tims”. There is so much brilliance in that head of his which came out perfectly in the twisted family horror with a purpose in 2018 “Hereditary”. What a great film. With “Midsommar”, he has reverted back to ‘I’m smarter than you’ territory.
There is no denying the beauty in which “Midsommar” is shot, edited, and designed. Wherever Aster and Cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski filmed this is undeniably eye candy. Simple framing in small locations such as a barn is top notch. My argument is, what’s the damn point?
Florence Pugh plays Dani, a college student going through a horrific event involving her family having killed themselves. I won’t say how, but the way in which they do so is dramatic but also makes no sense. Efficiency is not in this family’s DNA apparently.
Cut to the aftermath and Dani is reeling on the edge of a nervous breakdown. She reaches out to her idiot boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) for condolence. This is the point where Aster begins to make fun of dip-shits because he knows he can. Christian and his group of college friends are going on a trip to Sweden for a summer abroad. He invites Dani out of guilt and she accepts in hopes of healing fresh wounds.
After arriving in the foreign land and a long country side drive/hike they make their way to a mysterious amish like community in the woods full of flower crowns and suspicious psychedelic mushroom based concoctions. The dumb boyfriend Christian and his close friend Josh (William Jackson Harper) both have it in their heads that there is a thesis paper to be seen and written about on this village so the group stays. And now begins the full on exercise of college kids are idiots.
First of all, why the hell does this group stay after watching several members of this group hammer a mallet while crushing a man’s head over and over? You can say cults pray on small minded people but this is a college educated group. The argument can be made that they are being drugged, but even before that both Christian and Josh are fighting because of their thesis paper. I’m sorry, when somebody’s head is bashed in I say have a good day and get out of dodge.
Second, what is this cult’s purpose? What is being accomplished other than bringing in new visitors to have sex with the women? I’m sure it’s a metaphor for Mormonism or Scientology but even those religions have more basis in reality than this. The nudity and explicit violence doesn’t bother me, but what are the filmmakers trying to say?
A standout in this arthouse massacre is Florence Pugh. She goes full on nut-case from start to finish and never loses a beat. Her descent into several levels of mental hell is subtle and also extreme. She is going to be a star.
“Midsommar” is like an “Avengers” movie for the art house crowd. The themes make sense but I fail to see a purpose. It is less introspective and more of a Lars Von Trier or Gasper Noe jack-off festival of ‘you’re too dumb to understand’ style of movie. I challenge Ari to never stop pushing buttons but also push buttons because you have something to say. “Midsommar” says nothing. Get rid of the constant hammering of rhetoric and just make the great film you are capable of.
Suck Factor: 4out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)
Written by Byrd
The SUCK FACTOR, how it works. We have flipped the rating system upside down. If a film is classic, it gets a 0. Meaning that movie has 0 SUCKS. If a film is complete trash you must avoid at all costs, it gets a 7, meaning this movie really SUCKS!