The Worst Person in the World (Verdens verste menneske)

The Worst Person in the World

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.

The Worst Person in the World’, Norway’s Oscar entrant (and nominee) for ‘Best Non-English Language Film’ is a sharp, relatable and acerbically witty comedy-drama about one woman’s attempts to make sense of what she wants from life as she approaches and enters her 30s. It has been described as a coming of age film for people who still feel as though they haven’t grown up, which is frankly a perfect summation and it is beautifully epitomised by Julie (Renate Reinsve), the character at the centre of the movie.

Her story plays out in 12 segments (and a prologue/epilogue) depicting key stages in Julie’s life from her late 20s into her early 30s as she wrestles with what she wants from life. The opening epilogue wonderfully articulates this through a neat montage that shows Julie moving from career to career, partner to partner, unable or unwilling to commit to any one thing either professionally or personally. Through Julie, director Joachim Trier explores societal conventions around things such as cheating, oral sex, pregnancy and the societal expectation to grow up and settle down. I liked how it digs into the oppressive nature of these conventions and expectations, and how they often directly conflict with what you want as an individual at any given time.

We see Julie across two primary relationships and ‘The Worst Person in the World’ neatly looks at how she tries to bring together the societal ‘responsibility’ to succeed in love and her own wants and needs, which can lead to scenarios where she feels like the worst person in the world (hence the title). What you want at different times of your life doesn’t always tie together neatly and this movie wonderfully looks at the anxiety and conflict within Julie’s mind at trying to draw these disparate thoughts and feelings into an outcome that pleases everybody, not least herself. Renate Reinsve, as Julie, is in almost every scene and she is a revelation bringing this character to life and making us really root for her to succeed (whatever that ‘success’ may be defined as), even as she falters.

The filmmaking to underpin the terrific script is equally impressive with some really cool and powerful filming techniques deployed to great effect, most notably a sequence where everyone besides Julie and her lover are frozen in time as she joyfully glides through the streets of Oslo to meet him. It perfectly encapsulates those feelings of lust, infatuation and adrenaline where it seems as though the world has stopped and you and your partner are the only people who matter. The movie is squarely in the ‘dramedy’ category and for much of the films runtime the comedy is most apparent, but by god when the ‘drama’ parts come it hits like a ton of bricks and one of the final segments is as good as anything I’ve seen this year.

The Worst Person in the World’ is a really special piece of work from Joachim Trier, with some of the sharpest and most insightful observations on human nature I’ve seen in a movie in some time. Led by Renate Reinsve’s incredible performance, a fearless script that isn’t afraid to confront topics often not touched on screen, and some bravura direction from Trier, this is comfortably one of the year’s best movies.

Rating: 5/5

Directed By: Joachim Trier

Starring: Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielson Lie and Herbert Nordrum


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