Janu Nakts (St. John's Night) is a traditional Latvian celebration during which family and friends gather to build bonfires, barbecue, drink and generally have a good time. According to legend, lovers and those who would like to fall in love, can search the woods for the "magic fern" on this night. This magic fern serves as the focus and pivotal point of the six stories in "Midsummer Madness" It is also a metaphor for the film's underlying theme - finding love. "MIDSUMMER MADNESS " is reflected in the recurring element of the magic fern, a metaphor (both in the film and in real life) for love. The question posed by the film is: can a search for love ever be successful? Each story deals with this question. An answer is provided at the film's conclusion in a humorous and unforgettable way: we see the legendary fern, glowing magically in a meadow. It exists after all! Then a cow ambles along and eats it. The deeper message, which is not obvious to the audience, is therefore: Yes, a ... Written by
Joe W. Wrist
Alexander Hahn's "Midsummer Madness" reminded me a bit of Jim Jarmusch's "Mystery Train", with a bunch of people independently doing similar things. In this case the story takes place in Latvia during the celebration of summer solstice, or Jāņi in Latvian. Some of the characters are Latvian citizens, some are travelers, but this particular day holds some surprising experiences for everyone.
The movie is half focus on the characters' quirks and mishaps, half look at the Latvian countryside. When I went to Latvia I pretty much stayed in Riga, but the rest of the country looks beautiful. In one scene, the taxi driver tells the visitor that Latvian male names end in S (such as Gundars Āboliņ). Thanks to Wikipedia I've seen that when male names from other languages get written in Latvian, they add S on the end.
The movie itself is OK, not great. The best part is the focus on the relationships between the characters. We get to hear Latvian, English, French and Russian spoken. The cast includes Orlando Wells (Susannah York's son), Maria de Medeiros (Butch's wife in "Pulp Fiction") and Dominique Pinon (who always appears in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's movies). What a mixture for a celebration in the former Soviet republic. If I ever go back there - along with Estonia and Lithuania - I'll make sure to go to the countryside. Dievs, svētī Latviju!
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