This film was directed by Ari Aster, director of Hereditary, another film that was reflected on here on Broadstew. That link —à https://broadstew.com/2019/01/24/hereditary-a-glass-half-full-review/
In the case of Midsommar, the glass is not half full but overflowing.
To break the film down seems an impossible task. Since leaving the theatre, the film is the only thing I’ve thought about but even as I write this, I’m still struggling to grasp everything that was thrown at me in the 140-minute runtime. The plot revolves around Dani, who, while grieving after a traumatic loss, agrees to accompany her boyfriend Cristian and his friends on a trip to a small village in Sweden. Among the group are Josh, Mark, Pelle, Connie and Simon. Josh is writing his thesis on the village people. Mark is treating the trip as a fun getaway and Pelle is a native of not only Sweden but the actual commune itself. Connie and Simon are introduced later as friends of Pelle’s brother from England. As happens in horror, chaos ensues and ends in tragedy once the outsiders settle into the village and learn more about their beliefs and practices.
After the film ends however, questions linger about who was right and who was wrong because most of the tragedy in the film comes from a lack of open-mindedness from the outsiders.
At one point, Pelle, Christian’s friend who is a native of the Swedish village says something to Dani about the West and their possessive ideals that amount to a mentality of “What is yours and what is mine” which comes into play with most of the outsider/commune interactions. This is the driving force for everything that happens (or doesn’t happen) to Dani and the rest of the group of visitors. The reality of this story though, is that the protagonists are primarily the assholes in this story. Their own ideologies influence how they behave and react to the commune’s ceremonies and traditions and they feel wronged when those practices don’t mesh with their western ideals. Among the group of outsiders there are those that label the commune immoral, one that tries to steal their culture from them, and one that blatantly disrespects it without regard to its sacredness. But that’s just talking about the theme of outsider/insider culture conflict in the movie. There is still the topic of grief to unpack, and this centers mostly around Dani and how as a character she explores throughout the film; Because the loss that Dani experiences at the beginning of the movie is the harshest of them all.
And that’s the way it’s supposed to feel. Because the harshness of her loss immediately puts the viewer in her corner. You feel her pain throughout the entire movie and as she grows and explores her grief so do we. It’s an incredible journey that Writer/Director takes us on because like the women of the commune who groan in pain with Dani, so do we. We share the darkness Dani feels even in the ever-present sunlight of the summer solstice. There is great symbolism in the horrors of the film taking place primarily in the light of day as they mirror the reality of internalized grief and how it can pull a person apart even on the best of days. Midsommar is a powerful and profound commentary on loss and the darkness it cages people in but also posits a mythology where death doesn’t have to be so grim and can even be enlightening. But what does that mean for the Bitterlemons part of the reflection?
Bitterlemons: How sad is Midsommar?
Midsommar, more than it is sad, is very heavy emotionally. The themes of the movie will hit you like a sack of bricks, but they won’t necessarily make you sad as much as they’ll make you think. Because this is a horror movie, it goes without saying that things go very badly for certain people in the movie except for that as stated before, it’s kind of hard to root for some of the characters so it’s not really sad when something happens to them (Except for Dani). Dani’s experience at the beginning of the fil proves to be the saddest but as we grow with her that grief is left behind. Because of that I would say that this movie isn’t very sad at all but again, does cover some pretty heavy topics. I give it a 2 out of 8 on the pain chart.
Midsommar is an amazing film that will linger in your thoughts long after you watch. As far as provoking thought and standing for something bigger than itself it stands head and shoulders above any other horror movie I have and will probably watch all year. That being said, if what you’re after is a more traditional jump scare kill fest, this is not the movie for you so take what I’ve said in this reflection with a grain of salt. I will say though that up until this point, this is the best movie I have seen all year.