Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

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Big Ben
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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#76 Post by Big Ben » Wed Jul 10, 2019 4:52 pm

Black Hat wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:38 pm
The film was also such a hackneyed commentary on religion that in the words of Stephen A Smith I think the film's fans declaring its intelligence have been "Hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray and flat out deceived".
I suppose I'm a little confused by this response here. The cult indeed serves as a source of conflict and that while it's foreignness is absolutely linked to the unfolding terror I don't think much needs to be read into the cult as commentary on religion per se but rather as a way to look at the relationship of Dani/Christian through a broader thematic context. The Pagan Cult stuff is topical only.

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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#77 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:13 pm

brundlefly wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:14 pm
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There's a single frantic phone call to a friend, the mention of a therapist. Sorta-laughs at the cliche that she's majoring in psychology because she's crazy. I saw a whole cabinet of prescriptions there, not just the bottle in the close-up.
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As someone in the mental health field I can say that in my experience there is a strong overlap between people who are service providers and those that have mental health issues of their own, and is a big reason why people get into the field (that and/or some family history of mental health). In fact, a large portion of the general population does have some kind of mental health issue, especially generalized anxiety which is what she would most likely be taking Ativan to treat... if anything at all since often these medications are prescribed to people for small bouts of anxiety and stress, and sans clinically significant diagnoses, plus there’s really no indicators that she suffers from any mental health disorders of her own- as others have said her responses to stressors are normal. Regardless, pathologizing people as "crazy" for majoring in psychology or taking prescription medication when experiencing emotional dysregulation during acute crises that produce natural stress is not only problematic but indicates a lack of understanding of basic human conditions. (Ativan is also one of if not the most commonly prescribed drug in the U.S.) This worldview is rather dated, and reminds me of the blind notion that therapists and doctors are magical beings who can solve everything and have life 'figured out.' Just because you are majoring in psychology doesn't mean that you aren't subject to stress, anxiety, mental health issues, or maybe are allowed to have an intense response to deep-rooted tense family dynamics and frightening warning signs based on those dynamics.
brundlefly wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:14 pm
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She's empowered, she rules, there. She's the hero because she's the one who makes the call to burn the relationship to the ground, chooses herself by choosing him. Except we have zero idea if she stays in the community, do we? Was there a post-credits bumper I missed? Because if not, In that final shot, she's not even part of the community. What I saw was a whole town feeling the pain of sacrifice while Dani beamed at her freedom (or maybe even his suffering.) And even if she does choose to stay with the "horrific" people who gutted and defaced and strung up all the interlopers... not exactly what I'd describe as "managing pretty well."
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I agree that we don't know if she stays in the community and I actually like considering that possibility (as I wrote upthread) that Dani is soaking up her freedom/his suffering juxtaposing her individualism against the backdrop of the collective suffering, indicating a dissonance between her and the collective and offering the viewpoint that perhaps she is not 'with them.' However, I don't think Aster is trying to be didactic about her "managing pretty well" or "she's empowered, she rules, there" by the end. I believe that while we certainly see events through her perspective, regardless of her relationship with the collective the grin she exhibits is not intended to raise her up as "heroic" but demonstrate a moment of finding some sense of peace or catharsis in her situation for the first time in the film. Whether she gets it from the collective support, from selfish vengeful action, a combination, etc. is all up for debate and all the more interesting for that reason (and certainly is significant in analyzing the 'smile') but while I do agree that Aster is aligning with her over Christian throughout the film, I also think the ending is successful because he does NOT reduce it all to 'she's cured' or even "managing pretty well." Sure we feel some catharsis with her and it's wonderful to see her finally convey an emotion of peace, but that smile is curious, not exactly serene, and I believe it's that way on purpose to cause us to question it and draw us right back into the uneasiness of the mood once more before the credits. If I viewed the film as you did, I'd feel similarly about the ending, but because I saw Aster's intent as a bit more ambiguous, it worked.

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Magic Hate Ball
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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#78 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:38 pm

I have to note that I had to look at the script to recall the order of events and I was misremembering when she had a conversation with her friend, but Aster himself noted that she was moving from one codependent relationship to another (I certainly don’t think she’s “crazy”). I also think that this is a flaw in the film - we arguably should not have to armchair analyze the characters to figure out their motivations.

I also find the suggestion that people reading the characters differently suggests something about the viewer to be a little bit specious - the movie frontloads its character development, and then does very little with them for the next two hallucinatory hours. It’s like if the prom in Carrie lasted for six reels, and the first hour was cut to thirty minutes. Maybe this worked for some people but not particularly for me.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#79 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:46 pm

Magic Hate Ball wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:38 pm
I also think that this is a flaw in the film - we arguably should not have to armchair analyze the characters to figure out their motivations.
Would you like some lines of dialogue in which characters explain their motivations like supervillians? I'm not sure what this is even supposed to mean, but I can guarantee that reducing the ability for a viewer to come to their own conclusions about the thesis of a film is going to have a dilatory effect on the quality level of that film.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#80 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:54 pm

Magic Hate Ball wrote:but Aster himself noted that she was moving from one codependent relationship to another
Good reason to trust the tale and not the teller. Aster doesn't seem to know what constitutes codependency.
Magic Hate Ball wrote: I also think that this is a flaw in the film - we arguably should not have to armchair analyze the characters to figure out their motivations.
I don't think you understand what "armchair anaylsis" means. You can only armchair analyze the characters in movies. They're fictional; you can't go gather new information about these people in the field.

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Magic Hate Ball
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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#81 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:59 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:46 pm
Magic Hate Ball wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 6:38 pm
I also think that this is a flaw in the film - we arguably should not have to armchair analyze the characters to figure out their motivations.
Would you like some lines of dialogue in which characters explain their motivations like supervillians? I'm not sure what this is even supposed to mean, but I can guarantee that reducing the ability for a viewer to come to their own conclusions about the thesis of a film is going to have a dilatory effect on the quality level of that film.
No? I simply think that this movie was vague and distant to a fault. I don’t want to be hand-held to a moral epiphany, but I also don’t feel like this movie had enough substance to its characters. That may be an element of personal taste - I’m not a fan of opaque characters - but I also don’t think that having characters who are more well-drawn would have a “dilatory effect” on the film’s quality.

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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#82 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:31 pm

I don't understand what's so vague about these characters for you. They seem defined pretty clearly.
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Christian is in a relationship he finds burdensome and wants out of, but can't find the strength to end; he's pursuing graduate study, but has difficulty finding a subject. He's weak, passive, unsure of what he wants.

Dani suffers from anxiety brought on by the erratic and draining behaviour of her bi-polar sister. She relies on her boyfriend for support, but he seems to be pulling away and to find the role onerous, which she worries is her own fault. She goes through a profound trauma, losing her family, and struggles to find connection and support afterwards.

Those are some clearly outlined characters if I've ever seen them. You know who they are, where they stand in relation to each other, and what they want or what they have difficulty deciding they want.

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Magic Hate Ball
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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#83 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:40 pm

Okay, well, I found them vague and ill-defined. This is my personal criticism of the film. I’m not sure what to tell you.

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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#84 Post by knives » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:42 pm

I think the question is how were they ill-defined? How is Sausage's definitions either wrong or not enough?

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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#85 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:45 pm

I found them to be sketched out and not well filled in. I felt that they did not have much to reveal as the film unspooled, particularly in the last act. There’s no concrete right or wrong here, so I’m not sure what scientific evidence I’m meant to supply to prove my point, but that’s how I felt and it frustrated my viewing experience.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#86 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Jul 10, 2019 8:04 pm

Why is it that whenever someone's feet are held to the fire on some claim or other they've made, they so often act like they suddenly have no idea how to analyze a film or provide examples to back up their opinion, and just generally act like it's the height of unreason to've even asked them to explain themselves in the first place?

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Magic Hate Ball
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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#87 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Wed Jul 10, 2019 8:18 pm

Because I’m not obligated to.

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domino harvey
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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#88 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jul 10, 2019 8:22 pm

You are posting on a discussion forum, not a blog. If you are not prepared to engage with others and defend your own comments, you should not be posting here

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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#89 Post by Mr Sausage » Wed Jul 10, 2019 8:27 pm

Magic Hate Ball wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 8:18 pm
Because I’m not obligated to.
Not obligated in the larger sense, no, but this forum does expect you explain your opinions and engage in substantive discussions here if you're going to post.

It's one thing to simply cease responding. It's another to sit here and chide us for trying to get you to engage in the discussion properly.

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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#90 Post by Grand Wazoo » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:23 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 4:39 pm
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If that ending were just "woman gets back at her abuser" it would have felt rote, but the fact that this was just a wishy-washy, emotionally neglectful clown getting his comeuppance is a lot more morally shaky and in keeping with the dark comedic tone of the whole film. This isn't someone who entirely deserves his fate, but he deserves it more than that other guy who Dani doesn't know from a hole in the wall.
While I didn't love this film, Mfunk hits on something I quite liked about the ending:
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It seems to me that one goal of the film might be to replicate how being trapped in a relationship, be it neglectful or outright abusive, can warp one's mind into believing that a drastic, rather insane action is somehow the correct/positive/proactive solution. Dani has stayed in this so long while she and Christian have simply refused to honestly hash out the issues they are having and face the inevitable conclusion that they should break up that it eventually reaches a fever pitch where, in Dani's mind, outright murdering her boyfriend seems like an acceptable option. I think this works really well when the film as a whole is taken more metaphorically, and I think most viewers would and should be on Dani's side up until she takes her anger and grief way too far. Christian may be an idiot, but you don't kill someone for being a crappy boyfriend. I'm finding it rather off-putting (though unsurprising) that a large contingent of twitter appears to be taking the film literally while unirionically supporting Dani's choice to murder Christian. The moral gray area is the point they don't seem to consider.
I liked Hereditary much more than this but I do appreciate Aster's skill in concocting stories that work simultaneously as almost pure metaphor as well as fun horror/thrillers. I'll also say that I thought the opening of this one pre-title is masterfully done.

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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#91 Post by _shadow_ » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:04 am

I think "one-dimensional" is perhaps more apt than "ill-defined" to describe the characters. The lack of definition comes into play in that there is no shading or nuance that would bring them to life and make their stories interesting enough to justify the film's runtime - they could literally have worn t-shirts as "Asshole Boyfriend", "Creepy non-American", "Sitcom Bro", etc.

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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#92 Post by Mr Sheldrake » Thu Jul 11, 2019 4:20 am

One vague element of the movie is the sexual relationship between Dani and Christian. Mark remarks that there is no sex, and nothing is said or shown to refute that claim, no scenes of intimacy besides holding hands and hugs. Obviously sex (or no sex) can be a major stumbling block in a long term relationship.

I was curious as to what occurred in the six months between the tragedy and the trip to Sweden. We see Dani relatively cheerful, at least partially recovered. How did this happen? Early on there is a brief telephone call with a friend but we never see her. We skip the funerals so we see no aunts, uncles, cousins. Presumably a religious figure could play a part in recovery, or a support group, none are mentioned. A psychiatrist is alluded to, but not shown.

Might we assume that Christian was there for her, that he was the support figure she relied on to get her through her crisis? What was his motivation for staying with her? Was he afraid of what she would do to herself if they broke up? Could he be an asshole in some respects and still have genuine affection for her? There are moments when it appears he does. Is Dani's trauma the family tragedy or an imperfect boyfriend?
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The reaction of the group (especially Dani) to the initial atrocity is puzzling. They briefly discuss leaving but quickly shrug it off. Even after three mysterious disappearances they never question whether their lives might be in danger, evidently unaware of the warnings contained in the glut of similarly themed movies.

It's at this point (the atrocity) that the group (and the cult) cease to be recognizable human beings, they're untethered from reality. They've now become characters in a horror film, their roles are to fulfill the imperatives of the genre they're trapped in.

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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#93 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:24 am

Grand Wazoo wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:23 pm
mfunk9786 wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 4:39 pm
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If that ending were just "woman gets back at her abuser" it would have felt rote, but the fact that this was just a wishy-washy, emotionally neglectful clown getting his comeuppance is a lot more morally shaky and in keeping with the dark comedic tone of the whole film. This isn't someone who entirely deserves his fate, but he deserves it more than that other guy who Dani doesn't know from a hole in the wall.
While I didn't love this film, Mfunk hits on something I quite liked about the ending:
SpoilerShow
It seems to me that one goal of the film might be to replicate how being trapped in a relationship, be it neglectful or outright abusive, can warp one's mind into believing that a drastic, rather insane action is somehow the correct/positive/proactive solution. Dani has stayed in this so long while she and Christian have simply refused to honestly hash out the issues they are having and face the inevitable conclusion that they should break up that it eventually reaches a fever pitch where, in Dani's mind, outright murdering her boyfriend seems like an acceptable option. I think this works really well when the film as a whole is taken more metaphorically, and I think most viewers would and should be on Dani's side up until she takes her anger and grief way too far. Christian may be an idiot, but you don't kill someone for being a crappy boyfriend. I'm finding it rather off-putting (though unsurprising) that a large contingent of twitter appears to be taking the film literally while unirionically supporting Dani's choice to murder Christian. The moral gray area is the point they don't seem to consider.
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To be fair to Dani, though - she was given a choice between a faceless member of the cult and Christian, and had to choose one of them. I wouldn't go as far as to say that qualifies as "killing" him, though I agree that the moral ambiguity there is a strength. Although I should add that I was still perversely on Dani's side through the end of the film.
Mr Sheldrake wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 4:20 am
One vague element of the movie is the sexual relationship between Dani and Christian. Mark remarks that there is no sex, and nothing is said or shown to refute that claim, no scenes of intimacy besides holding hands and hugs. Obviously sex (or no sex) can be a major stumbling block in a long term relationship.

I was curious as to what occurred in the six months between the tragedy and the trip to Sweden. We see Dani relatively cheerful, at least partially recovered. How did this happen? Early on there is a brief telephone call with a friend but we never see her. We skip the funerals so we see no aunts, uncles, cousins. Presumably a religious figure could play a part in recovery, or a support group, none are mentioned. A psychiatrist is alluded to, but not shown.
The passage of time happened? Like Sausage, I remain a bit perplexed by how unknowable Dani's mind is being treated in the discussion of this film here - she suffered a major loss, and experienced a not insignificant passage of time with much of the same support system she had prior to the loss. She is not depicted as being fully recovered and is having nightmares, panic attacks, etc. Surely the sudden lack of immediate terror over her sister's condition is unwanted but still helpful to her condition. I'm not sure if you've known someone suffering a major loss, but six months is a longer period of time than it seems in a film - people are equipped with built-in skills to be able to get up in the morning regardless of some terrible circumstances, loss included. Were she depicted as being straitjacketed by grief, to me that would have seemed even more unrealistic. And she sort of is! Before they go to the party a couple weeks before the Sweden trip, Christian thinks he's going to wake her, when she's just lying in bed staring at the wall. How is that relatively cheerful?

As for the sex - that's the sort of offhanded comment that could be made about a relationship with any amount of sex, depending on how much sex the other partner wants (or professes to his friends that he wants) - surely there are people who have sex every other day who complain that there's no sex in their relationship, just like there are those who have sex once a month, or never. It's clear that their relationship is strained and should end, but Christian decides to hang on likely with the excuse of Dani's loss in his back pocket, even though we're shown he would be too spineless to end it regardless. I don't think we know enough about their sex life to start placing blame on either of them for any real or perceived problem there.

Starting to wonder if the length of this film isn't doing it any favors from the perspective of people wanting Aster to have unpacked every single detail of these characters' lives and psyches - we're given all the glimpses we need, in my opinion, but it's beginning to feel as though I'm in the minority there. It's a 2.5 hour movie, though, not a Netflix series - some of the color has to be filled in by the viewer, and I don't see an issue with that.

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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#94 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:28 pm

mfunk9786 wrote: Starting to wonder if the length of this film isn't doing it any favors from the perspective of people wanting Aster to have unpacked every single detail of these characters' lives and psyches - we're given all the glimpses we need, in my opinion, but it's beginning to feel as though I'm in the minority there. It's a 2.5 hour movie, though, not a Netflix series - some of the color has to be filled in by the viewer, and I don't see an issue with that.
I think people who are taking that perspective you speak of are missing the point of the film, which is to serve as a mood piece, a metaphor not only in story but with everything in the mise-en-scene and especially the use of a spacious length to set a deliberate pace. This is essential to letting the stylistic elements breathe and to elicit a sense of discomfort in the viewer in response to the feeling of trappage in this toxic relationship. To fill everything in would put emphasis on story and cloud the clearly intended emphasis on style toward allegory, which wouldn’t make it exceptional by any means. Sure we have a natural desire to have more information from films especially from the perspective of the omnipresent voyeuristic act of watching a film, but by involving the audience as much as he does while remaining aloof enough to leave room for ambiguity, Aster is doing something far riskier walking on a thin tightrope and doesn’t fall. It sounds like this perceived flaw in the film isn’t a misstep in Aster’s intended presentation but is more in line with people looking for an entirely different kind of movie altogether. As I said before, I’m not surprised that the cinemascore is low, as the film is far more esoteric than the trailer seemed or even compared with Hereditary, which also had issues matching viewers’ expectations. I don’t fault anyone for disliking this but many responses seem to be focused on trying to fit a square peg in a round hole instead of accepting that the movie didn’t work subjectively vs. it being a failure at its aims.

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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#95 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:57 pm

And Hereditary was pretty much just a big allegory for family histories of mental illness. Beginning to think a rewatch of that one is in order, now that I feel like an Aster apologist all of a sudden...

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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#96 Post by brundlefly » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:10 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:54 pm
If she's such a nightmare, where's the nightmarish behaviour?
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Running to the bathroom by herself when she has panic attacks? Being conciliatory and attuned to other people's emotions? Freaking out when she can't get ahold of her family when her bipolar sister threatens to kill herself and them? I mean, christ, Dani's so easily calmed down with just the slightest reassurance. She doesn't ratchet up, refuse help, go nuclear; she maintains control, she becomes calmer, she makes jokes at her own expense (ie. shows self-awareness and insight). She feels more stable with just a little effort on the other person's behalf. The friend does a good job at this; the boyfriend, well, he does it, but he makes her feel like shit for needing it, too... We don't see her friends, but this is a compressed view we're getting. It doesn't mean anything.
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[Nightmares don’t have to manifest as melodramatic outbursts. You could just as easily find yourself trapped with someone who calmly, as you put it, manages your emotions. A bear in the cage.

I don’t want to see Dani as calculatingly manipulative, but as you say, there are subtleties to their behavior. They’ve been together for 3 ½ years. They are not a loud couple.

Is there ever a scene where she’s honestly emotional in front of him? Just openly emotional? She runs to the bathroom to scream, to be alone, and my mind went to: It’s brutal for her that she can’t be that open with him.(*) Is there ever a sign of affection between the two, ever? As Sheldrake points out, the jester brah scoffs that Dani “doesn’t like sex” (or that Christian needs to be with someone “who likes sex”) before the tragedy happens. And though he’s got sophomorically narrow views of relationships (what’s *his* thesis, I wonder), and there are a zillion unknown reasons for her feelings on sex, it’s obvious Christian has complained about it to his own support network. (Christian scolds him – for betraying his confidence? To defend Dani? Both?) He has needs going unmet as well. The non-sex is more important as a symptom. There’s no intimacy. When she’s checking herself and using measured terms, she’s hiding something of herself. I recall no passion, no affection. Just civility. When he slides his arm around her on the hill while they negotiate the shroomin’, it’s a pageant of support. He’s never more than dutiful.

(*) Though one should never bawl openly on a plane. Especially on an international flight.

If he ever had an exit strategy – and I’m not sure he’s brave enough to end the relationship, on a good day – her family tragedy dashed that. Cue six months of patting her on the back while wondering when a window may open.

Image

I don’t want to derail everything even farther by projecting or piling on inferences, but while you saw her being rational and calm and self-effacing, I saw someone being emotionally dishonest. If you want to dismiss the script description Magic Hate Ball cited about her “moving from one codependent relationship to another” because it doesn’t meet a clinical definition, sure, and who knows if the director who wrote that intention and the actor who read it let their ideas of that inform his film/her performance. But I wonder if, should you get abandoned by enough people because they tell you you’re being too needy, you don’t methodically rework that into rational manipulation while howling away out of view.

I'll see the beginning and the end again at some point, but though I saw it Tuesday I’m not remembering it as you are. (Again: The only pain I recall Dani performing with the community is when she’s wailing over his indiscretion. At the end I think she’s foregrounded, smiling, in contrast with the people behind her. But of course I could be wrong.)

Moreover, I do not recall the friend on the phone being genuinely supportive. After the mural parts, the film did an amazing job of blindsiding me with Dani’s anxiety and feeling of isolation, absolutely engendering sympathy. But the friend on the phone, isn’t she shooing her off? Doesn’t she say something along the line of, “Where’s Chris? What’s Chris doing? Shouldn’t Chris be handling all this?” Dani reaching for meds. A shot of her phone with her list of contacts (a note by one of them – and I thought it was Christian’s – saying something like, “Guy I met in bar, not interested”) and not calling anyone but the guy she’s called three times already. I don’t know that we never see her friends or therapist because it’s “a condensed view.” Possible its among Aster’s hours of outtakes. It’s purposeful, though, to isolate her against the lousy support she gets from Chris and his bros (even Pelle, commune-raised, takes months to offer consolation and then also seems to be hitting on her while he does so) and contrast that with the empathetic female-led commune.

By editing everyone else out, the film isolates Dani from any other friends and counselors – we can’t say they were supportive, because they’re just not there – and by murdering her sister and parents, isolates her absolutely from everyone but Chris and his friends. But as lousy as he is, it’s weird to say that it’s his failing that he couldn’t provide the emotional support of an entire village.

TL;DR: It took two people to make this terrible relationship happen and the winner is the one who ended it. Someone’s probably already posted sixty pages of theory the whole thing was a mushroom-fueled fantasy of the guy who walked through that one shot, anyway.

If nothing else, Midsommar’s a great up-yours to movies where bickering couples find solidarity on vacation through shared conflict. I cannot remember: Is anyone in the commune introduced or mentioned as married or partnered to another individual other than as sexual partners or birth parents? It could be a giant theme park devoted to the dissolution of relationships. The cult gave Chris both tacit permission and an excuse (witchcraft, honey, I swear) to be unfaithful and then Dani opportunity to have him killed. Why were the British couple slaughtered? The others transgressed: The jester pissed on the ancestral grave, the scholar took forbidden photos of the high holy book of fingerpainting. But the happy, affectionate, engaged couple introduced to contrast with Dani and Chris were killed why? They were disrespectful/disruptive at the cliff ceremony, but Ingmar at least publicly shouldered the blame. They rejected the cult and wanted to leave, was that the deal breaker? Or were they killed because they actually loved each other and how dare they?

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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#97 Post by Finch » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:55 pm

Wasn't Hereditary's Cinemascore a D+? If so, the C+ for Midsommar is an improvement. No doubt it helps that some people likely adjusted their expectations for this film after Hereditary. My reading of the Dani-Christian relationship aligns with Mr Sausage and Mfunk's. In my original post I wanted more shades of grey in the depiction of Christian but I accept that I was probably projecting something different onto the film instead of accepting that Aster wants to us to side with Dani and that Christian is clearly meant to be seen as the "villain" (for the lack of a better word) of the piece.

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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#98 Post by brundlefly » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:57 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:13 pm
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As someone in the mental health field I can say that in my experience there is a strong overlap between people who are service providers and those that have mental health issues of their own, and is a big reason why people get into the field (that and/or some family history of mental health). In fact, a large portion of the general population does have some kind of mental health issue, especially generalized anxiety which is what she would most likely be taking Ativan to treat... if anything at all since often these medications are prescribed to people for small bouts of anxiety and stress, and sans clinically significant diagnoses, plus there’s really no indicators that she suffers from any mental health disorders of her own- as others have said her responses to stressors are normal. Regardless, pathologizing people as "crazy" for majoring in psychology or taking prescription medication when experiencing emotional dysregulation during acute crises that produce natural stress is not only problematic but indicates a lack of understanding of basic human conditions. (Ativan is also one of if not the most commonly prescribed drug in the U.S.) This worldview is rather dated, and reminds me of the blind notion that therapists and doctors are magical beings who can solve everything and have life 'figured out.' Just because you are majoring in psychology doesn't mean that you aren't subject to stress, anxiety, mental health issues, or maybe are allowed to have an intense response to deep-rooted tense family dynamics and frightening warning signs based on those dynamics.
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Thanks for this. I don't think she's crazy. At least for someone who goes on to bbq their bf. I just loved Pugh's reading of the line, how it's layered with I'm-joking-gosh-I-hope-he-knows-I'm-only-joking-I-hope-I'm-only-joking. And zero stigma against mental health professionals from me. Attempts at understanding always trump ignorance. And if I had to make even more wild guesses at motivations I'd suspect -- as I think you may have been implying -- her sister's condition may have had some influence on her pursuit. But who knows?
therewillbeblus wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:13 pm
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I don't think Aster is trying to be didactic about her "managing pretty well" or "she's empowered, she rules, there" by the end. I believe that while we certainly see events through her perspective, regardless of her relationship with the collective the grin she exhibits is not intended to raise her up as "heroic" but demonstrate a moment of finding some sense of peace or catharsis in her situation for the first time in the film. Whether she gets it from the collective support, from selfish vengeful action, a combination, etc. is all up for debate and all the more interesting for that reason (and certainly is significant in analyzing the 'smile') but while I do agree that Aster is aligning with her over Christian throughout the film, I also think the ending is successful because he does NOT reduce it all to 'she's cured' or even "managing pretty well." Sure we feel some catharsis with her and it's wonderful to see her finally convey an emotion of peace, but that smile is curious, not exactly serene, and I believe it's that way on purpose to cause us to question it and draw us right back into the uneasiness of the mood once more before the credits. If I viewed the film as you did, I'd feel similarly about the ending, but because I saw Aster's intent as a bit more ambiguous, it worked.
No, I agree, and as I think I mentioned in my initial post that I think he's punctuated his films with ambiguities as part of his overall drive to make things complicated. And I'm on board as long as they're organic. I prefer moral complications and messy people.
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"Managing pretty well" was Sausage's quote for her behavior, and I was just plying that against a scene of boyfriend incineration. When I said, "she rules," I was just playing with the May Queen thing and her state of mind. I wouldn't call the act itself heroic, and there's no traditional hero's journey here; but in terms of solving the story's problem, which is a bad relationship, she's the story's hero. And mine, as I thought the film should have ended perhaps a little sooner.
therewillbeblus wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:13 pm
I think people who are taking that perspective you speak of are missing the point of the film, which is to serve as a mood piece, a metaphor not only in story but with everything in the mise-en-scene and especially the use of a spacious length to set a deliberate pace. This is essential to letting the stylistic elements breathe and to elicit a sense of discomfort in the viewer in response to the feeling of trappage in this toxic relationship. To fill everything in would put emphasis on story and cloud the clearly intended emphasis on style toward allegory, which wouldn’t make it exceptional by any means.
Despite the billion words, it wasn't my main concern with the film at all. But I had my reaction to their relationship, Mr. Sausage asked me to justify it, and I have as best I can. That's all. It doesn't hurt to plumb what in a film made you feel the way you do about it, as unsatisfactory as the answers may be.

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Re: Midsommar (Ari Aster, 2019)

#99 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:23 pm

brundlefly wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:10 pm
Mr Sausage wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:54 pm
If she's such a nightmare, where's the nightmarish behaviour?
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Running to the bathroom by herself when she has panic attacks? Being conciliatory and attuned to other people's emotions? Freaking out when she can't get ahold of her family when her bipolar sister threatens to kill herself and them? I mean, christ, Dani's so easily calmed down with just the slightest reassurance. She doesn't ratchet up, refuse help, go nuclear; she maintains control, she becomes calmer, she makes jokes at her own expense (ie. shows self-awareness and insight). She feels more stable with just a little effort on the other person's behalf. The friend does a good job at this; the boyfriend, well, he does it, but he makes her feel like shit for needing it, too... We don't see her friends, but this is a compressed view we're getting. It doesn't mean anything.
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[Nightmares don’t have to manifest as melodramatic outbursts. You could just as easily find yourself trapped with someone who calmly, as you put it, manages your emotions. A bear in the cage.

I don’t want to see Dani as calculatingly manipulative, but as you say, there are subtleties to their behavior. They’ve been together for 3 ½ years. They are not a loud couple.

Is there ever a scene where she’s honestly emotional in front of him? Just openly emotional? She runs to the bathroom to scream, to be alone, and my mind went to: It’s brutal for her that she can’t be that open with him.(*) Is there ever a sign of affection between the two, ever? As Sheldrake points out, the jester brah scoffs that Dani “doesn’t like sex” (or that Christian needs to be with someone “who likes sex”) before the tragedy happens. And though he’s got sophomorically narrow views of relationships (what’s *his* thesis, I wonder), and there are a zillion unknown reasons for her feelings on sex, it’s obvious Christian has complained about it to his own support network. (Christian scolds him – for betraying his confidence? To defend Dani? Both?) He has needs going unmet as well. The non-sex is more important as a symptom. There’s no intimacy. When she’s checking herself and using measured terms, she’s hiding something of herself. I recall no passion, no affection. Just civility. When he slides his arm around her on the hill while they negotiate the shroomin’, it’s a pageant of support. He’s never more than dutiful.

(*) Though one should never bawl openly on a plane. Especially on an international flight.

If he ever had an exit strategy – and I’m not sure he’s brave enough to end the relationship, on a good day – her family tragedy dashed that. Cue six months of patting her on the back while wondering when a window may open.

Image

I don’t want to derail everything even farther by projecting or piling on inferences, but while you saw her being rational and calm and self-effacing, I saw someone being emotionally dishonest. If you want to dismiss the script description Magic Hate Ball cited about her “moving from one codependent relationship to another” because it doesn’t meet a clinical definition, sure, and who knows if the director who wrote that intention and the actor who read it let their ideas of that inform his film/her performance. But I wonder if, should you get abandoned by enough people because they tell you you’re being too needy, you don’t methodically rework that into rational manipulation while howling away out of view.

I'll see the beginning and the end again at some point, but though I saw it Tuesday I’m not remembering it as you are. (Again: The only pain I recall Dani performing with the community is when she’s wailing over his indiscretion. At the end I think she’s foregrounded, smiling, in contrast with the people behind her. But of course I could be wrong.)

Moreover, I do not recall the friend on the phone being genuinely supportive. After the mural parts, the film did an amazing job of blindsiding me with Dani’s anxiety and feeling of isolation, absolutely engendering sympathy. But the friend on the phone, isn’t she shooing her off? Doesn’t she say something along the line of, “Where’s Chris? What’s Chris doing? Shouldn’t Chris be handling all this?” Dani reaching for meds. A shot of her phone with her list of contacts (a note by one of them – and I thought it was Christian’s – saying something like, “Guy I met in bar, not interested”) and not calling anyone but the guy she’s called three times already. I don’t know that we never see her friends or therapist because it’s “a condensed view.” Possible its among Aster’s hours of outtakes. It’s purposeful, though, to isolate her against the lousy support she gets from Chris and his bros (even Pelle, commune-raised, takes months to offer consolation and then also seems to be hitting on her while he does so) and contrast that with the empathetic female-led commune.

By editing everyone else out, the film isolates Dani from any other friends and counselors – we can’t say they were supportive, because they’re just not there – and by murdering her sister and parents, isolates her absolutely from everyone but Chris and his friends. But as lousy as he is, it’s weird to say that it’s his failing that he couldn’t provide the emotional support of an entire village.

TL;DR: It took two people to make this terrible relationship happen and the winner is the one who ended it. Someone’s probably already posted sixty pages of theory the whole thing was a mushroom-fueled fantasy of the guy who walked through that one shot, anyway.
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The problem with your blame apportioning is that it often confuses effects for causes. I think you did a fine job of laying out how the relationship is sour. I don't think you did such a fine job understanding where the responsibility lies.

Just logically: Dani is needy, anxious, and in distress; she has a reason for intimacy. Christian is bored, distant, and wants out of the relationship; he has no reason for intimacy. Dani's behaviours, including withdrawing, are the direct result of insecurities brought about and intensified by Christian's own behaviour. I somehow doubt you or others believe Dani would turn down intimacy if Christian were properly engaged in their relationship. What Dani lacks is the clarity to see this (and as many people will tell you, it can be very hard to get perspective when inside a toxic relationship), but she gains it by the end of the movie.

What's frustrating is no one seems to see that Dani's behaviours are the result of the failures of those around her to properly support her. I don't see how you can understand the end of the movie if you don't see this. It just requires that one be less judgemental of people, less willing to toss around loaded and critical terms like "co-dependent" and "emotionally dishonest", and take the time to understand how and why people are acting the way they are. To me, this movie is an excellent portrait of the negative effects of an inadequate support system on a young woman. I sympathize with Dani because I see how the people around her, specifically her boyfriend, are making things even harder for her when they ought to be making them easier. I mean, hell, Christian treats his friends much the same way he treats Dani. Look at how he steals his friend's thesis idea, readily betrays and disavows him without prompting, then never mentions him again. His selfishness and cowardliness is on display in all of his relationships. Not that his friends are much better, and maybe Christian would be a better person and boyfriend if he had a more supportive circle of friends (as I said, this is a movie about support systems, or the lack of them). He is still the worst of them, tho', the one who does the most damage.


It's weird to have this conversation, because the rest of this long movie is spent clarifying the emotions and relationships of the characters by representing them increasingly in generalized metaphorical terms. The movie tells you what Christian is: he is the villain, the bear, the totem of evil to be purged for communal (read: personal) betterment. His becoming the bear is not just arbitrary pagan craziness in a horror film; it's the summation of his role in the central relationship, in his circle of friends, in the narrative as a whole. And at the end, the community, with Dani at its head, perform his pain and that of the others in a ritual where a portion of the sacrificed's burden is taken on by the community in appreciation and thanks. It's a pretty striking irony for the community of batshit, othered murderers to be revealed as lacking all of the ugly, damaging interpersonal flaws that had made life so difficult for our supposed heroes. Hence, I would say, Dani's ecstatic expression at the end.


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