the worst person in the world
starring: renate reinsve, anders danielsen Lie, maria grazia di meo, and herbert nordrum
REVIEWER: nick tonkin
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 is the new film from Norwegian director Joachim Trier who co-wrote the screenplay with longtime collaborator Eskil Vogt. It has achieved critical acclaim on the international stage, being nominated for two awards at this year’s upcoming Academy Awards and finding strong favour with professional critics.
It is an affecting dark comedy/drama that explores the life of Julie (Renate Reinsve), a young woman searching both for her place in the world and meaning within it. Its narrative is presented in chapters, each considering a period of her life from her days as a student to life in her early thirties.
The prologue of Worst Person introduces us to a young Julie, a medical student in Oslo with proud parents who experiences sudden inspiration to change her course of study to psychology. This prologue is cleverly told, introducing the elements of Julie’s character at this time in her life that come to define her over the course of the film.
Some time later in a new chapter with Julie now employed at a bookstore, she meets Aksel at a party, an illustrator 15 years older than her. After spending an intense weekend together they talk about life together; Aksel speaks with some wisdom about desire, that despite their strong connection, their age difference would ultimately divide them as they are at different stages of life. Julie however, still a romantic, convinces Aksel that their differences won’t divide them.
These kinds of choices come to define Julie's character through the periods of her life that Worst Person explores, and she keeps making them and changing them. She has naive and romantic notions of what purpose and meaning in life are, and by constantly chasing inspiration, she leaves people and obligations in her life in her wake. This also leads to the tragic heart of the film; Julie needs to make mistakes to learn from them, and these mistakes hurt more people than just herself.
The writing really is excellent in The Worst Person in the World, we as viewers can at times see the logical end of the path that Julie’s choices put her on, but she is so relatable on a human level that it is difficult not to commiserate with her in her journey. No doubt this is also due in no small part to Renate Reinsve’s excellent performance as Julie, which earned her the award for Best Actress at the Cannes film festival last year.
The Worst Person in the World is an impressive and affecting film that explores the search of purpose, meaning and love in the life of a young woman, brought to life vividly through an award winning leading performance from Renate Reinsve.