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
Lives up to the madness in its title and the beauty of its country
It's midsummer in Latvia, and everybody has gone mad. Although for most of these characters, they are probably just as crazy any day of the year. A group of British firemen are in search of the "magic fern"; two brothers hatch a plan so those damn capitalists will stop raising gas prices; a French woman picks up flirtatious men as she's on her way to distribute her late husband's ashes; a sex-crazed stewardess is on the prowl for Mr. Right Now; an American and his taxi driver are trying to find his half-sister; and then there's a kangaroo...
This is a good film that is very funny and beautifully shot. The vivid colours and great use of candles, lights and fire in every scene balance out the dark of the shortest night of the year with the quirky characters perfectly. Has night time ever been so brilliantly captured in a film? I doubt it. It's the type of film that is just so pretty you don't want to look away despite the absurdities and randomness of the situations. They did all this with just a low budget and without being ostentatious like big Hollywood films.
I could have done with a few less characters (there's probably even a dozen that I have forgotten to mention), but the more that I got to see of them, the funnier they became. At the center is Curt, in an excellent performance by Orlando Wells reminiscent of Dallas Roberts, able to play the comedic straight man and bring a whole lot of sympathy and depth to a character that at first seems to be just a bitter and arrogant American. Not to be outdone is Gundars Abolins as Oskars, the funniest taxi driver you will ever meet.
"Midsummer Madness" falls a little short on its underlying theme of love and in actually defining all of the characters and their adventures. By the end, I really only liked two of the characters, enjoyed a handful more, but then forgot about the rest. It does, however, live up to the madness in its title and it fully delivers on the unity of all nations coming together in Latvia and in the promotion of its beautiful country. I want to go now, although I might steer clear of some of their parties and traditions.
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