The Worst Person In The World (2021). Photo: Neon

The Worst Person In The World (2021)

"I feel like a spectator in my own life." - Julie

Sorting out our lives: the directions we want to take, the relationships we want to be in, and the career we want to choose are all difficult. And let's face it, we don't always make the right choices the first time. Sometimes we need to (as the saying goes) try, try again. This is life.

The charming, moving film Worst Person In the World does a fantastic job of relaying this personal journey. Directed by Joachim Trier, the movie stars Renate Reinsve as Julie, a 30-year-old that, while extremely intelligent, has bounced from one profession to another. She drops out of med school (dumping her boyfriend in the process) to take up psychiatry. She leaves psychiatry to take up photography (again, finding a new boyfriend).

Finally, Julie meets Aksel, a semi-famous graphic novelist, and she takes a job in a bookstore to pay the bills. It is here that the Worst person In The World really takes off. She moves in with Aksel and enjoys being with him. But there is an age difference, and the two spar over having children. He wants to have kids right away, but she is not ready. When she meets Eivind at a party, the two begin a flirtation that takes her life in a new direction.

The beauty of the Worst Person In The World is how confidently the script handles the challenges of Julie's life without melodramatically blowing everything out of proportion. Trier respects the characters and actors, allowing them room to breathe. The actors take this opportunity and soar. Renate Reinsvate is a revelation as Julie, and her work earned her the Best Actress Award at Cannes. Anders Danielsen Lie and Herbert Nordrum are also excellent as the lovers desperately trying to hold onto her.

Trier cleverly breaks Worst Person In The World into 12 chapters, with a prologue and epilogue. This is one of those rare films that wisely focuses on the interpersonal relationships of intelligent, caring people and lets things just play out. The script is bright, the acting is spectacular, and the direction is stellar. Even the photography is right on point, and, like a tight Bergman film, the movie holds up well on repeated viewings.

The Worst Person in the World has received so much critical acclaim (it has been hailed by some as an "instant classic") that I fear many will come into this one expecting too much. There are no incredible knock-down, drag-out brawls, or philosophical "dark nights of the soul ." There are undoubtedly major pivot points and changes in Julie's life as she struggles to define how she wants to live her life and with who. And for me, that's way more than enough.

Director Joachim Trier brings this movie along at exactly the right pace, with the film landing precisely where it needs to. This outstanding independent film deserves all the praise it has received, especially for the brilliant acting by Renate Reinsve. (B+)

Worst Person In The World (2021)
Directed by Joachim Trier
Starring Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, Herbert Nordrum, Han Olav Brenner
Genres: Drama, Romance

The Worst Person In The World (2021). Photo: Neon

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