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Film Review: Midsommar (2019)

Midsommar (2019) is the latest horror film directed and written by Ari Aster, who shocked audiences last year with his debut film, Hereditary. Starring Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor and Will Poulter, this film focuses on the relationship between Dani (Pugh) and Christian (Reynor) as Dani struggles with family trauma. Christian invites her on a trip to Sweden with his mates to take part in the festivities of Midsommar. When they arrive, things don’t go exactly as they expect.

Midsommar (2019) – source: A24
This seems to be the year of Florence Pugh, who gives an outstanding performance here as Dani. Her role is loud, dramatic and yet Pugh manages to give a nuanced performance with subtle emotions mixed in with the overdramatic. Whilst I am sure that this performance will get ignored by the Academy, like how Toni Collette was last year, this is easily one of the best performances given this entire year. At only 23, Pugh has set up a fantastic career already for herself.
She is not the only stand out in this film though, as everyone gives their all. Jack Reynor, Will Poulter and William Jackson Harper all give career-defining performances here, and Reynor gave one of the best male performances in any film this year so far. What he has to do on screen is beyond anything that I have seen this year, and good on him for giving his all and doing everything that Aster asked him to do. This film is also surprisingly humourous, and that is all down to Will Poulter, whose character Mark provides all of the comedic moments in the film. And with that, the humour didn’t feel cheap or fake, it felt genuine to the situation.
You knowing going into an Ari Aster film that the editing and cinematography is going to be beautiful to watch, and this one improves on the work of Hereditary. Every aspect, from the colour, lighting, framing and movement, was perfectly done. It’s worth crediting the director of photography, Pawel Pogorzelski here, who also worked on Hereditary with Aster. It is clear that they have the same ideas when it comes to telling the story, and it is a partnership I expect to see continue on for years to come.
Midsommar (2019) – source: A24
This film starts off with an exposition that sets up not only the relationship between Dani and Christian, but also the family trauma that occurs with Dani, her parents and her sister. This all occurs before the title card comes up for the film, and it is really detailed and advanced for an exposition. However, this exposition feels wasted by the moment the characters head to Sweden. After that, the exposition is only referred to once or twice, and then is completely ignored. I found this to be a waste of potential, and also made the script feel lacking in a strong story to tell.
This film is also incredibly slow paced. It takes over an hour for the first cult moment to happen in the film. Even then, there are huge moments of shock and horror, but followed by what felt like filler moments to me. There are certain sub-plots that happen in the film that I was not a huge fan of, as it felt forced to me just to have the characters be in a certain place and act a certain way. 
This film deals with two major themes: dealing with grief, and the breakdown of a relationship. I am conflicted on the way that it deals with grief. For the first half, I loved the message of how different cultures cope with grief in different ways. However, this message was forgotten about by the end of the film, as it instead focused on the relationship aspect. Whilst it did this part really well, I do not like the fact that a message like that can make dealing with grief appear to be easier, when in reality it doesn’t.
Midsommar (2019) – source: A24
I went into this film with very high expectations, and I think that was perhaps some of my downfall. Whilst this film is clearly made by a master of filmmaking technically, I found the script to be too weak to recover. This film is completely insane in the best ways, but I could have used even more. Whilst I was disappointed in the final product, it is still a good film and I would recommend people to go and check it out.

Have you seen Midsommar yet? Did it live up to expectations, or were you one of the people that hated Hereditary and have low expectations? Let me know down below and let’s have a discussion.

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