Why 'Midsommar' is an Almost-Perfect Portrayal of BPD
My favorite movie of 2019 is Ari Aster’s Midsommar. Not just for the cinematography, the inventiveness, the story, the humor, the performances- but also for the very real and very painful portrayal of mental illness and grief.
When I lost my dad to suicide in 2015, the feelings I felt were far from what I would expect. Losing an immediate family member is something that you never truly understand until you experience it. That kind of grief is unbelievably painful, and comes and goes in horrendous spurts of anger, sadness, and in some cases relief.
What Aster does in this film (and in Hereditary too) is create a reaction to unbelievably terrible situations, and show the lingering feelings that seem to last forever. The way that Dani (played by the incredible Florence Pugh) sobs after finding out that she lost her family is just the pinnacle of complete despair, hyperventilating and screaming.
I actually found this very realistic crying the be the most disturbing things about the movie. I honestly believe that Dani has Borderline Personality Disorder, and being someone with BPD, I can empathize with those feelings of complete hopelessness, and clinging to someone as a response and a need for any kind of anchor.
On the topic of BPD, I definitely think that the dynamics of a borderline relationship is very clear in the film. Dani timidly tries to speak her mind, only to apologize for doing so after her boyfriend, Christian (played by Jack Reynor), pretty much gaslights her into doing so. It was honestly like looking in a mirror, and made me reflect on many past relationships. It seems to be that many borderlines are the beta in relationship, with many alphas taking a little bit too much charge.
An added scene in the directors cut shows Dani and Christian fighting after witnessing yet another of the cult’s strange rituals. Dani attempts to tell Christian that they are in the presence of a Pagan cult, who depend on people not knowing about their practices. Christian writes her off, caring only about his research of the clan. He then goes on to criticize her for giving him flowers, believing it was a guilt trip after he forgets her birthday. Dani tries to tell him that she was just trying to be kind, but Christian continues to say that she is just manipulating him.
That’s a common thing that the non-borderline expects the borderline to do in a relationship, basically admitting that they are reducing them to a stereotype of their illness. When people find out you’re borderline, they almost expect you to be this raging, manic, angry, manipulative person- which we aren’t. People with BPD actually have huge hearts, and genuinely do want to do kind things for the people they are attached to.
The most valuable thing someone with BPD can have in a relationship is a partner who can look past their illness and see the person for who they are. In Midsommar, Christian reduces Dani to her grief and her illness, which could be a result of him trying to find a way out of the relationship.
And he did. In the most satisfying way possible.