Occasionally a film comes along that is so simple in its premise, yet so intelligent in its execution that it manages to stand by itself in the pantheon of genre films. The Worst Person in the World, a Norwegian film directed by Joachim Trier, is one of those movies that has broken through and made itself notable among the countless romantic comedy-dramas out there.
Divided into twelve chapters (bookended by a prologue and an epilogue), Worst Person follows Julie (Renate Reinsve), a medical student-turned-writer who is finding her own way in the complex world of relationships, conflicting feelings, and the brutality of the real world. It’s more a series of interconnected vignettes, further punctuated by the use of chapter titles, showing us what may be the most important four years of Julie’s life.
I’ll just say it right out of the gate — if I had seen this last year, my rankings for 2021 would definitely be different. Reinsve is giving one of the year’s best performances, and the film is genius in its depiction of the feeling of being in love, side-by-side with the practicality of reality, which can sometimes be unfortunate and disappointing.
Anders Danielsen Lie plays Aksel, a problematic cartoonist and Julie’s first love, despite the notable age difference between them. Aside from the wildly impressive feat of being a freaking doctor between his film roles, Danielsen Lie is also delivering an incredible performance, anchored by a haunting inevitability that ends up defining his character, more than any of his previous actions do. His character is perhaps the most poetic, and he brings a new depth and perspective to the film that we may not have gotten otherwise.
I adored the casual beauty of The Worst Person in the World, and while its status as a foreign film means that it will probably be overlooked in the future, it absolutely deserves all the praise and adoration it’s getting, and more. I might even go so far as to label it an instant classic — its light episodic structure and simultaneous celebration of the optimism and pessimism of life are only a few of its many strengths. This is a film to be actively sought out. [Grade: A+]
Director: Joachim Trier
Writers: Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier
Starring: Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, Herbert Nordrum
Rated: R for sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and some language