“Midsommar” Feels Like A Ninety Year Long Film At Times

“Midsommar” is described as a folk horror film written and directed by Ari Aster.  I always like blogging about films that are written and directed by one person. That is so handy since I feel somewhat compelled to acknowledge the main creative forces behind these movies when I come up with these little reviews.  The main cast includes Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, and Will Poulter. This is a collaboration between mainly American and Swedish filmmakers, which is kind of cool.

Pugh plays a young woman named Dani who lost her family to a murder/suicide committed by her crazy sister.  She is in a somewhat problematic relationship with Christian, played by Reynor, who is somewhat reluctant to remain in the union considering all of the emotional upheavals that such trauma can bring.  However, enter the Swedish visitor Pelle, he invites Christian and two other graduate students to his home commune out in the middle of the rolling green hills of well….Sweden, obviously. Dani decides to join the boys for this little venture thinking this could help her take her mind off of the small matter of losing her entire family.  Then Pelle, played by Vilhelm Blomgren,  plays host to the hapless Americans.  Oh yes, the ninety years in the title of this review….the commune is about to launch a celebration that comes about every ninety years in which they have to purify their community or something.  They kill off a couple of old people and ingest a few potions and concoctions along the way.  There’s one kid on this little trip who wants to work on his thesis, making the commune the subject, so leaving is not a decision to be taken lightly, although I would have made tracks quite enthusiastically once the old people threw themselves off a cliff.

Anyway, there is some effort on some creativity in the setting.  The troubled relationship between Christian and Dani was actually presented quite convincingly.  The performances weren’t bad.  Some of the folklore and legends in this commune weren’t presented all that clearly.  I had some trouble making connections that I think I was supposed to pick up on.  The main problem here is this thing is just too long.  It dragged quite a bit in between those moments of interesting developments.  Also, it got to be at times a little too bizarrely grotesque.  I have a pretty strong stomach and a solid sense of reality where I don’t get overly affected by cinematic disembowelments or whatever, but sometimes I am not sure all of what I saw was completely necessary.  Although other characters just flat out disappeared and I didn’t know what happened to them until the climax of the movie.

My other problem with this movie is that I ended up not caring all that much about the characters.  I didn’t miss anyone once they were gone.  I got to a point where I just wanted to see the end credits and go on with my day.  I didn’t actively dislike any of the main characters, but I didn’t find anyone all that interesting.

I don’t think Aster is a terrible writer or director, however this just did not seem to be the type of film that could hold most people’s interest for two and a half hours.  I just wish I was able to like it more than I did for the amount of time I invested in it.

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