Movie Review: Midsommar

If a movie can elicit numerous emotions, it means it must have some polarizing impact. Midsommar is exactly that film that will have you feeling a wide range of emotions that ultimately might leave you loving to hate it, or hating to love it. I had my fair share of feelings about Midsommar after leaving the theater, but after letting my emotions settle, my impression remained. So find out what makes Midsommar such a novelty.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT:

This is one of the more difficult descriptions about a movie that I’ve written. The gist of the movie plot is that it follows a young couple and their friends that travel to Sweden to attend a local rural town’s mid-summer festival. What initially appears to be a close-knit local cultural phenomenon, quickly turns into a violent cult raid.

There you go, innocent trip to rural Sweden that you wish you never took. The film centers on a couple, Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor), who go on this trip as a means to escape a personal family tragedy that haunts Dani back home. Bet she wishes she stayed and never took her trip to Sweden, but we do need a plot to this film after all.

HOW DID THE ACTORS DO:

The actors are key to the telling of every movie story, but in some films more than others. This film relies heavily on the actors to test their limits with the nature of the content presented in the film, as well as the range of emotions the actors must convey through their characters. Everything from subtle reactions to full blown panic rages.

Florence Pugh is one of those actors that looks familiar, but you struggle to pinpoint where you’ve seen them. In Pugh’s case, this is the movie you’ll remember her by. The reason she stands out in this film/role is due to the amount of emotional limits her character goes through.

Dani is an emotionally broken individual that has an unimaginable amount of pain she’s carrying around. No family, no apparent foundation of friends, aside from her boyfriend Christian, who holds a lot more influence over her than he should.

Jack Reynor has been one of the more underrated actors in the industry, but a longtime favorite of mine. I enjoyed his character work in this movie. He’s charming and goofy, but displays a genuine caring side with Dani. Reynor made his mark to worldwide audiences in Transformers: Age of Extinction, but he’s cut his chops and showcased his talents in smaller indies. This is a perfect film and role to highlight his star qualities, notably his charisma.

SCRIPT AND STORY:

Writer/director Ari Aster made a name for himself with the indie hit, Hereditary. While that movie depicted his clever knack for storytelling with a crafty sense of eliciting tension. What he manages to do with Midsommar is mind-blowing and tops what he did with Hereditary.

The story starts out with Dani experiencing a traumatic family event, so you’d think the script would point towards that being the main theme of the movie, but it’s not. What he does is quickly pivot in the opposite direction and use that traumatic event as part of Dani’s emotional burden. Nothing seems to be what it appears, but only it appears to be what you might anticipate. So what you see is not what you expect to get.

Aster toys and twists with your emotions and expectations by layering a sequence of shocking events that tease the possibilities of a solution to the issues the characters are facing, but not exactly delivering on that.

The most consistent part of the movie lie in the visuals. The colorful landscape and bright lighting that the movie uses the visual setting adds to the mind trick of making it appear innocent, while it’s actually completely devious. Had this movie been shot mainly at night and used dark colors, it would have completely changed the essence and heavily diminished the level of creepiness. Midsommar is a brilliantly puzzling film.

WAS IT ENTERTAINING:

This is where the real debate lies. The ultimate answer to this is in the eye of the beholder. In my case, I was suckered into the events that carried over from scene-to-scene that made me feel satisfyingly unsatisfied at the end. This movie can frustrate you as much as it mesmerizes. It frustrates due to the many turns it takes with the plot and the difficulty it presents in assimilating to the story and characters.

The build is pretty elaborate and drawn out. The desire to know what is coming next and what direction will the story and characters go to builds legitimate excitement along with some frustration. Is Dani crazy or the most sane individual in the compound? Are the locals just supremely carefree and happy individuals or are they all part of a sadistic cult? Just two of the many questions I found asking myself during the film.

The plot goes up and down and every other direction. It’s done with a purpose to throw off your pre-conceptions and misconceptions and to keep the viewers mind open to the events taking place on-screen.

Midsommar is an insane movie! With the insanity comes a rather entertaining and shocking storyline. You need to be fairly open to being startled to enjoy this flick.

SHOULD YOU SEE IT:

It comes down to two series of approaches. If you are ready to be part of an experience, then this movie is the one for you to see. On the other hand, if you don’t want to be spooked and feeling uneasy for over two hours, then you should probably pass on it.

This movie shook me. It was captivating, yet unpleasant. I thought Supiria was bizarre, but Midsommar outdoes that movie by a mile. It’s a unique and ambitious script that’s heavily loaded with polarizing scenes that are geared to make you react with passion, good or bad.

At various points I was disgusted, creeped out, excited, intrigued, confused and entertained. When you think of a movie that will make you say WTF, that’s what Aster makes sure you feel and think. It’s fairly lengthy at nearly two and a half hours long, but it doesn’t feel that long due to the constant plot twists.

Midsommar is a unique movie that may be hard to stomach for some, due to its disturbing nature. It does do one thing successfully, confuse and creep you out. It’s one of the better cult themed movies I’ve seen in years. At the mid-summer point in the year, this is the strangest and most compelling film of the year. See it at your own risk, but expect to cover up your eyes and get genuine chills along the way.

GENRE: Drama, Horror, Mystery

RATING: R

RUNTIME: 2 hr 27 min

RELEASE DATE: Out now in Theaters

‘MIDSOMMAR’ Score: 88%

Written by Jim Alexander

Jim Alexander hails from Chicago where he started his journalism career as a film critic and founder of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle (CIFCC). He's a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic. Jim founded Reel Talker as a platform to share his love of movies and entertainment. Jim's favorite part of being a journalist is getting to meet and interview actors, filmmakers and entertainers. Jim is a host and on-camera personality for AfterBuzz TV. Aside from his work with Reel Talker, he's the site owner of the Bachelor Universe website, where he recaps and talks about all this ABC's 'The Bachelor'. He also runs the Reel Talker Podcast that can be found on iTunes. In his free time he enjoys attending sports events and playing in recreational leagues. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

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