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When we meet college student Dani (Florence Pugh), she's isolated, enduring a nerve-shredding family crisis behind a mask of feminine selflessness and apparently afraid to reveal her emotions to her distant and manipulative boyfriend, Christian. But once an affection-starved Dani, along with Christian and his bros, follow their friend Pelle to his cultish village in rural Sweden for a mysterious pagan festival, Midsommar blossoms into a flower of a different color. The Americans respond to their surroundings in varying ways: Christian and fellow PhD student Josh try to probe the village's secrets for academic glory, while douchey Mark ogles long-tressed local girls. Dani, meanwhile, wavers between unease with the cult's weird rituals and attraction to its sense of unshakable fellowship. Soon, they're all swept up in rites involving dancing, feasting, and tripping out, unaware that far more transgressive acts are being prepared. The ensuing narrative is expansive, a bit funny, full of elaborate invented culture, and overall less exhausting (and exhilarating) than director Ari Aster's Hereditary. Where Hereditary is about losing a family, Midsommar is about gaining one, a process that's a lot less wholesome than it sounds.
by Joule Zelman