Assuming you read the title, I will not drone on and on about my love for Florence Pugh. I will not bore you with the disclaimer of how my review of a film she is in will be biased because given the opportunity I would like very much to live in a quiet cottage in a coastal English town, where she would cook fabulous meals and I would drink fabulous wine and we would be fabulously in love.
I will not say those things.
But I will say, Zach Braff… 🔥🐻🔥… watch it.
At the surface Midsommar is about Dani (Florence Pugh), a woman who – after an unspeakable trauma – finds herself in Sweden with her boyfriend and his friends. While staying at a friends ancestral commune, things get… weird. The relationships between Dani and her boyfriend, the group of friends, and Dani and herself, begin to pull apart and together as the film tackles feelings of grief, love, and purpose.
It really is a visually beautiful film. Stunning, actually. The direct sunlight is gorgeous, and it’s not really what you think about when you think of a horror movie. If you think about it — setting your horror film in direct sunlight opens you up to the risks of your scares not landing or, exposing the flaws in the special effects and ultimately having your horror film turn more into a weird drama.
Thankfully, Midsommar and its horror holds up — even in direct sunlight.
As for gore: it’s there. and it’s good. Ari Ester loves a head trauma as we learned in Hereditary. But it is not the entire film.
You don’t witness the death of an animal but there is a dead bear shown / gutted.
I rate this film 5/5. I love it (but you knew that).
Below contains what may be considered spoilers
On a personal note – this movie is my living hell. Psychedelics, in a strange place?!? Absolutely not. Let alone being at an all time emotional low, in a relationship that lacks empathy… AND being on drugs AND being in a field with strangers. My personal hell.
However I will agree that it does allow for a really interesting story to be told.
I know that this film gets chucked into the ‘good for her’ category on a lot of peoples lists. But I actually find that reading to be quite sad. Truthfully, I don’t think Dani’s boyfriend Christian was really that bad. Ok. He sucked. But, I would argue that his friends actually sucked more (specifically bandersnatch-vape nation-“find a girlfriend who actually likes sex”-annoying-ass). I think that there are lot of different ways to view Midsommar – a lot of feminist ways as well – but I struggle to see ‘good for her’ as one of them.
Dani is broken. We know that from the moment we see her. She feels like she’s too much for her boyfriend, she’s overwhelmed by her sisters mental illness, and she’s alone, in an apartment – seemingly away from friends and family outside of her relationship with Christian. Anyone who has ever found cults to be interesting knows that they rely on broken people, people in vulnerable states who are desperate for community, something to believe in, or a purpose.
It’s also my understanding that cults seek out these sorts of people. The scene where Pelle takes a moment to sincerely say that he is really happy she is coming to Sweden, on a second viewing, seems less like ‘oh he’s the only friend in the group who doesn’t suck’, and more like ‘oh! he’s the scary friend who takes advantage of you but acts like a good guy.’ The chills that just went up my spine.
I think Dani is a victim, but I don’t think being a victim takes away from her character’s political importance.
To me, Midsommar walks this very fine line, where Dani’s victimhood isn’t used to exploit her nor is it used to paint her as a hero. She’s complex. I love complexity in horror, and in female characters. I think complexity is inherently feminist – even if the character loses. That’s where I see the feminist reading of this film. It’s not ‘good for her’ she killed her shitty boyfriend and joined a cult, and it’s also not an anti-feminist three hour long ‘let’s see how many horrible awful things we can do to a woman in the name of art.’ Dani’s character, and the film as a whole is much more interesting than that. I think it explores a very human reality of navigating power, navigating pain, and follows a messy journey of what it means to belong in this world – all of which are feminist in their exploration.
But her smile! At the end! It shows she’s finally happy and free!
Once Dani selects Christian to be placed into the burning building (a decision I’ll add that she seemingly didn’t have a choice on whether or not to make but I digress) I don’t think there is one single emotion felt afterwards. I think it was complicated. I don’t think there was a single reason to chose Christian over the other character. I think it was complicated. And while I want nothing more than to see Florence Pugh happy, free and smiling. I think it can be true that in that moment she may have been feeling many different emotions. Relief, freedom, or happiness could be some of them.
But the way I see the ending has less to do with Dani, though I think it shows how broken she really is, but rather that it shows the audience a haunting calm before the storm (her life within the commune). And that makes me both want to cry and scream in horror. Someone please! Help her!
Her new life begins after the credits roll, and I think from what we know – living within a cult is never as bright and colourful as it may seem.