Maciek J. Pardziad ’23
The sound of silence in Ari Aster’s Midsommar: Directors Cut is more piercing than any scream or wail the deepest crevices of your dark subconscious could conjure up. In this new cut of the film, Ari Aster adds 22 minutes of footage that further complicates the complexities of Dani (Flor- ence Pugh) and Christian’s (Jack Reynor) dying relationship, the culture surrounding the midsommar solstice taking place, and helps to fully develop the themes about entrapment and finding freedom through community.
The plot of Midsommar: Director’s Cut revolves around Dani going through a significant trauma in her life and desperately becoming more dependent on her distant boyfriend, Christian. The couple then decides to join Christian’s college friends on a trip to Hälsingland, Sweden to heal their crumbling relationship by exploring the different cultural aspects of a small Swedish commune. However, as time passes, the darker underbelly of this seemingly innocent and bright community start to truly show.
The true beauty and sunniness of Hälsingland is shown through Pawel Pogorzelski’s impressive technical cinematography. Although there are a multitude of different shots within the film that are stunning to look at on their own, the long pans and tilts that Pogorzelski and Aster achieve truly add to a sense of oneness that the commune has with one another, especially in relation to nature.
The acting performance from Florence Pugh alone is worthy of an Oscar nomination. The realism she adds to a character that is emotionally broken, dependent on her significant other, and continuously insecure and in fear was painful to watch in the greatest way because the audience could project themselves onto her. Her performance was complemented beautifully by Jack Reynor, who adds to this sense of realism by embodying the distant partner who is ready to give up at any moment. The inclusion of more scenes between the two actors was a decision that paid off exceptionally well not only because they were invigorating to watch, but also because it added to the development of Dani’s character and made her arc towards independence that much more satisfying.
The only problem I had with this cut of the movie was some of the overbearing writing from Aster. This isn’t to say that the script wasn’t engaging because it was. The dialogue between the entire cast of characters, especially Dani and Christian, was extremely realistic, and it made the emotional high points that much more powerful. However, there are a couple of momentswithin the film that I felt were a little too obvious in saying what was to come in the future. These lines of dialogue appear as Aster trying to be clever for the sake of being clever, instead of attempting to immerse you into this foreign world and letting the subliminal images that he put into the film do the talking.
Midsommar: Director’s Cut is a beautifully horrific film that shows you the underlying darkness in an idyllic wonderland filled with sunny skies and smiling faces. The gruesome imagery perfectly fits into the larger metaphor about broken relationships and how happiness can be found and is worth finding, even if you have to go through hell first.
Midsommar: Director’s Cut is no longer showing at the at Cinestudio, but is now available for purchase or streaming on Amazon Prime and will be on DVD/ Bluray on Oct. 8.