The Worst Person in the World, 2021.
Directed by Joachim Trier.
Starring Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, Herbert Nordrum, Maria Grazia Di Meo, Hans Olav Brenner, Marianne Krogh, Helene Bjørnebye, Vidar Sandem, Anna Dworak, Thea Stabell, Deniz Kaya, Lasse Gretland, Karen Røise Kielland, Karla Nitteberg Aspelin, Sofia Schandy Bloch, Savannah Marie Schei, Eia Skjønsberg, and Ruby Dagnall.
The chronicles of four years in the life of Julie, a young woman who navigates the troubled waters of her love life and struggles to find her career path, leading her to take a realistic look at who she really is.
Joachim Trier’s versatility has marked him out as one of European Cinema’s most intriguing contemporary directors. The latest in his Oslo trilogy, following 2006’s Reprise and 2011’s Oslo, August 31st, is the dark comedy festival circuit darling The Worst Person In The World which has earned universal acclaim for its original approach to the coming of age genre and depiction of what its like to be in your late 20s. Trier’s direction and Renate Reinsve’s incredible lead performance as Julie.
The film depicts four years in the course of Julie’s life from her 20s into her 30s as she lurches from a series of relationships that breakdown for a multitude of reasons with Julie’s ultimate aims unclear, perhaps best encapsulated from her shift from a medical degree to photography and ultimately creative writing as a hobby, Julie works for much of the film in an Oslo bookstore. The relationship that anchors much of the first half is between Julie and controversial comic artist Askel, superbly played by Anders Danielsen Li. After meeting at a party Julie and Elvind develop a fascination with each other despite both being with other people at their time of meeting and a clear desire not to cheat on their respective partners.
The film’s structure is distinct broken into twelve chapters with a prologue and epilogue. The pace of the prologue is so frenetic it might take audiences aback with voiceover and a lively introduction to Julie and her situation to date. The balance of each chapters is superb as is the focus on all the characters with Julie’s life, we get a clear sense of the strained relationship with her father and the reasons that make each of her relationship’s work and why she eventually drifts out of interest.
One of the most remarkable things about the film is the way it effortlessly shifts between being heart-breaking and funny; this is far from a romcom but it is not short on moments of light-heartedness and joy. It may not go in the direction some of the audience may expect but this is to its credit and its reluctance to shy away from subjects not often depicted in films of this sort with the differing opinions on whether to have children a reoccurring film, coupled with issues of mortality.
The performances are quite simply magnetic and demand the audiences attention of course Reinsve’s performance is what anchors much of the film and makes Julie an empathetic lead with the audience rooting for her. She is able to juggle the tonal jumps the film undergoes flirtatious and fun one minute and sad and trodden the next but captivating in every single frame. Anders Danielsen Lie a regular collaborator with Trier has perfect chemistry with Reinsve and gives one of his best performances to date, making a fine accompaniment for his work in Bergman Island, he excels at showcasing how the pair are both good and bad for each other and ultimately he forms the film’s emotional core in its second half and his performance is more than up to the task.
The Worst Person in The World is a superb film that captures the anxiety many feel in their 20s as they struggle to reach their potential while being a moving and yet somewhat uplifting tale of love and loss with electric performances and some jaw dropping visuals, putting Oslo front and centre. Unafraid to tackle darker topics, the film is very mature in its outlook and may surprise some but it is a deeply original film in many departments. In many ways this would make a fine companion film to other awards contenders Licorice Pizza and Tick Tick Boom! which offer variations on similar films. It’s not hard to see why this is a front runner for Best International Feature and has also earned an Original Screenplay Oscar nomination as well as a BAFTA nomination for Renate Reinsve for Leading Actress.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★