Spoilers for Midsommar Ahead!
Review of the Director’s Cut
Oof, bless the custom of rewatching movies.
Gaspar Noe’s Hereditary (AKA, Ari Aster’s Midsommar) has a roughly three-hour-long director’s cut out in select theaters as of now and has been rumored to be, by even Aster himself, the “True Version” of the film’s original intentions—yes, there are no nagging executives to tell Aster to cut down the film’s length this time! Who knew that 23 minutes of additional footage that was carefully impregnated throughout different locations of the film’s runtime could make for an intensely SIGNIFICANT improvement from its native, theatrical release?
One of the head flaws I had when I first watched Midsommar, was that I felt like it had a truckload of good ideas scattered in various sequences that weren’t explained or delved into timely enough. It made the experience feel more choppy than connected. Now, the director’s cut gracefully adds to those segments by placing or extending crucial sequences and moments that tie the movie together a lot more smoothly. Instead of it feeling like there are many, many contradicting ideas being loosely catapulted at us in one undisciplined outcome, it feels like there are multiple constructs that all lead up to a central suggestion. There’s an apparent, numbing flow rather than a sort of traffic jam, so to speak.
Additionally, characters are objectively more fleshed out now rather than seeming often sporadic. In the original cut, there was enough substance to create pity for our primary lead played by Florence Pugh, but in this extended edition, it was clear that Aster had a wise aspiration to shine valuable light onto some of our other star-crossed individuals. Compassion is warranted when we understand our protagonist, especially, our multiple protagonists.
And I’ll admit it, I have come around to appreciating the second half/finale of Midsommar remarkably more due to this revisit. The additional, lingering footage of initially released scenes helped the intensity of the situation protrude much more and I’ve grown to fear the bitter-some lamentation that occurs as something so horrific that has never been caught on screen quite like it has from Aster’s direction. It’s uncomfortably exotic.
Here’s the simple breakdown of how I interpret Midsommar: Obviously it’s an overcomplicated, exaggeration of a breakup, expanded into this disastrous symbolic metaphor. Christian being seduced or manipulated by Maja represents the instinctive male trait and cycle of being easily wooed over by sex and then feeling double-crossed once it becomes an abiding relationship, therefore, the male necessity for reproduction with a new mate becomes reasserted once more. Maybe, Aster is incessantly vexed and irritated by the urges he proposed throughout his previous relationship or the urges his partner disported. The death of the Elders is a showcase of the tens of Swedish individuals who begin expressing their grief of losing these loved ones. The tens of Swedish individuals mourning are used again at the end of the movie when Dani allows Christian to be killed. The sundry amounts of weeping represent Aster’s possible philosophy that being cheated on or losing “thee” actual love of your life is equivalent to the feeling of tens of individuals losing a loved one (but more of like a blood-related family member). The sacrifice/manslaughter of Christian (or Dani’s responding betrayal) shows how sometimes exes can quickly turn into enemies despite once having an infatuation for one another. Aster could be at arms with this once romanticized individual he has now parted with. Yep.
So, I never thought I’d find myself radically changing my opinion on Midsommar in the course of only two months, but here we are fellas. Ari Aster please forgive me you very sad, sad director.
Notwithstanding all this, I still stand by the review title I used in my first review of Aster’s second feature-length: “Midsommar is going to tear the world apart.”
Verdict Change: B- —> B+
Here’s a new drinking game: Take a shot every time Will Poulter takes a hit off his pen.
“Midsommar: Director’s Cut” is now playing in select theaters.