“Midsommar” (R) *
AN advance announcement of the arrival of writer/director Ari Aster’s feature debut said: “What begins as a carefree summer holiday in a land of eternal sunlight takes a sinister turn when the insular villagers invite their guests to partake in festivities that render the pastoral paradise increasingly unnerving and viscerally disturbing”.
Liberal minds may take the view that “Midsommar” speaks in support of people’s right to worship whom or what or however they choose. But by and large (144 minutes) it’s as boring a movie as you might hope ever not to see.
It has one horror passage, the obligatory and ceremonial public suicide of two mature villagers who have passed their use-by date. Another sequence shows copulation against a background of full-frontal nudity. And the climax deliberately sets a pagan temple ablaze with live people inside. I imagine that those are the elements that led the classifiers to rate it “R”. The reality is that the horror genre offers many more-horrible examples that got milder classifications.
A group of young Americans come to spend time among a Swedish rural community unaware it practises pagan rites. The young folk spend the days tending the farm, eating communal meals with all the individuality of military drill, conforming to rules laid down by older superiors (most of whom also are a bit past their use-by dates but are too important for the obligatory suicide rule). They dress all in white decorated with floral symbols and garlands. They dance. They consume preparations that may subdue the natural urges of their ages. They seem happy in the lifestyle. I’m blessed if I know why.