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Midsommar


Ari Aster's debut film last year, "Hereditary" was one of my favorites of 2018, except for its last 3 or 4 minutes, when Aster decided to explain everything that happened with a dopey wrap up.

So here we are this summer with the much anticipated (for me) MIDSOMMAR, again written and directed by Aster.

And after seeing it...he's consistent.

The first 75 minutes or so are nearly flawless.

We meet vulnerable college student Dani, played to perfection by Florence Pugh (Fighting with my Family).

She is clinging to a flawed relationship with her boyfriend Christian, who she worries she buries in her personal drama.

When a horrific family tragedy (incredibly well staged by Aster) strikes, Dani and Christian are bonded again by her grief.

To lift the darkness, Dani decides to join Christian (Jack Reynor) and his friends on a trip to Sweden to their friend Pelle's homeland. Pelle (Vilheml Blomgren) grew up in a peaceful hippy cult that's all flowers and sunshine.

Josh (William Jackson Harper) is the studious friend, writing his thesis about the cult.

Will Poulter (We're The Millers) provides what comic relief exists as Mark, the horny friend that wants Christian to move on from Dani's drama to someone, ANYONE easier.

The group flies to Stockholm and then begins a 4 hour drive to the rural location of the gathering and the madness begins.

No more plot points from me moving forward.

Aster frames some sequences that convince me he's one of our best young directors. The aftermath of the family tragedy is incredibly well structured.

A simple car ride after landing in Sweden becomes a mind-bending, upside down road that plays with your head. And that's before the drug use starts.

There is lots of casual drug use that escalates into madness territory. Flowers and trees breathe, consciousness ripples. It's undoubtedly visually arresting.

When they first arrive on the commune site, I couldn't take my eyes off the roof lines of the buildings. Something is very wrong here....

The main titles come far into the film, after what proves to be nearly the last nighttime scene of the film. The unending sun puts the escalating violence under bright lights. Aster doesn't do jump scares, but he loves leaping forward into the next scene making you feel like you've missed something key. I loved the structure.

With about 45 minutes to go, Aster betrays the fact he's not nearly as good a writer as he is a director, piling on ever escalating irrational behavior, nudity of every variety, graphic sexual content and filleted victims that Hannibal Lecter would be proud to claim as his own.

With one hell of a creepy music score by The Haxan Cloak and stunning photography "Hereditary" veteran Pawel Pogorzelski, the film is beautiful to look at, even when it's got unrelentingly ugly things to show you, repeatedly and up close.

At one point, Christian refuses a drugged tea, saying he's afraid of having a bad trip.

For me, the last 45 minutes of the film are exactly that after a fantastic, albeit morbidly depressing opening act.

MIDSOMMAR gets a C.

I saw this in a theatre with 8 other people. 2 left a half hour in, 3 more an hour in. And they hadn't even got to the disturbing parts yet.

SPOILER ALERT:Aster said in an interview that he sees the final shot of Dani as a funny payoff that will likely make audiences cheer at her revenge against Christian. Yeah...I dont know what movie he thought he made, but that final expression on her face was anything but funny. It made me think she's completely lost her mind along with the rest of these yahoos.

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