Midsommar consistently feels one note to me. All of the characters stay playing their single one note throughout the film – think about Christian's empty, beautiful stare or Pelle's placidity or even Dani's grief. And the way he's shot the film does this too. Everything in the film feels the same – slowly haunting, respectful, beautifully composed, and distant.
In Midsommar I am especially haunted by the images from before we get to Sweden – especially that image of Dani's sister with the pipe of vehicular exhaust taped directly to her face. It's a disgusting, disturbing image, and I neither can get it out of my head nor want to. Aster focuses on his corpses most intriguingly. We consistently are asked to look at the inside of bodies, of bodies broken open, showing us their viscera and often in various processes of decay (I am thinking, too, of the disgusting meat on the table during the May Queen's feast and the bear's viscera as they disembowel him). Aster is interested in what happens when the insides of our bodies are on the outside – as with the very strange thing that the Hårga did with Simon's lungs, which looked like wings as he hung there suspended in that little hut. I think all of this is very interesting, even if I don't think there's much to say about it except that it's there.
|The family offers no solace|
I see both films, then, as stories of desperate need for familial belonging – of filial, fraternal, and sororal affection and desire. But in both Hereditary and Midsommar, that desire cannot be fulfilled by the biological family. Instead, the characters in these films must figure out how they fit within familial structures of belonging that are not biological. Peter and Annie can't find love in the biological family; they can only find belonging in the cult of Paimon. Dani and Christian can't make a family together, even after four years, but each can belong in his or her own way in the cult of the Hårga. In each case, affection/desire for one single person must be violently destroyed in favor of affection/desire being shared among the group, a kind of communism of affection that is understood in Aster's cults as superior to the love of a couple or the love of the nuclear family.
|Welcome to your new family|