Midsommar (2019) - Ari Aster
Halfway through this movie I became more interested in coming up with smart ass remarks about Ari Aster films than actually watching Midsommar so I think that says more than enough and yet, here we go. This film is like a guy took a film composition 101 class and then thought it was a profound concept to inject emotional trauma and relationship dynamics into an outre, horror framework. Midsommar wants to be incisive yet the film is really on the same level as most mainstream horror fare, its formalist rigor nothing more than a facade, a promise of something more which never comes to fruition. Sleek aesthetics can't cover-up the film's thin characterizations with Asher seemingly unwilling, or incapable, of spending the time necessary to establish characters which feel real. Instead the characters of Midsommar feel simply like props for the film's off-kilter imagery, a fact that really hurts the film given its desire to be about something more than gleeful macabre. Through thin characterizations which are crudely stated not organically revealed, the film's thematic intentions are also slight and underdeveloped, as Asher bluntly reveals the film's overarching themes in the prologue - grief, trauma and toxic relationships - only to then largely ignore them over the next 120 minutes before circling back around in the film's finale frame. Perhaps this would be largely my overarching criticism - the filmmakers want to have the best of both worlds yet there is an unwillingness to spend the necessary time on anything outside of aesthetic design. Midsommar feels vapid due to its disinterest in establishing emotional dynamics and fully-fledged characterizations, which leaves us with an overlong, self-indulgent film that says absolutely nothing, with the approach being the antitheses of something which is holistically realized. For my money, I wish the film would have gone pure satire or at least adhered more to the old-school, straightforward horror archetype, as I could see myself liking a self-aware, 100 minute version of this film which doesn't take itself too seriously. To the quips! This film is the material equivalent of the "oh, I get it" scenario in which someone explains the narrative or thematic intentions of the film to you when you tell them you thought it was bad. It feels almost like these A24 is producing films like this exclusively for the slick marketing campaign where transgressive imagery provides killer b-roll, with Midsommar being a film that is wholly uninteresting on nearly every level due primarily because it refuses to go all the way, in one direction or the the other, opting instead for this middle ground in which it insults your intelligence while it puts you to sleep.
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