Friday, February 18, 2022

The Worst Person in the World

If there's a weakness for me in writer/director Joachim Trier's The Worst Person in the World it's that I never come to love the lead character of Julie (Renate Reinsve) nearly as much as the writer nor the characters who cross her path. Don't get me wrong, Reinsve is terrific here in the role of a woman who abandons careers and relationships at the drop of a hat while searching blindly for something she can never quite articulate. I'm never won over to root for or against Julie's choices; I'm simply along for the ride.

It's in the small moments of Julie stumbling through life, largely without any self-reflection or regard to more than the moment, that the movie provides some of its most memorable scenes, such as an unexpected slow-motion sequence that highlights the delight of potential new love versus that which been worn down with age.

Herbert Nordrum and Anders Danielsen Lie co-star as the two largest love interests in Julie's life. Both provide a different kind of romantic partner who pull various aspects of Julie's personality to the surface, although you get the feeling in both relationships that Trier doesn't believe either man is ever quite worthy of the restless young woman. As for Julie, the film introduces her as shallow, flighty, and self-interested early on while slowly delving a bit more into her character allowing her to evolve and grow through her longer relationships. While she might not in fact be the worst person in the world, some of her choices could easily leave that impression on those she leaves in her wake.

Two unsung heroes of the film are set designer Roger Rosenberg and cinematographer Kasper Tuxen who deliver a rich world that feels real and lived-in by the characters of the film. It's also interesting to watch the visuals used to explore and expand on the moods of Julie, not unlike seasons changing before our eyes. Even if at times I felt my own restlessness at Julie's angst, the film continued to provide an interesting world in which to explore.

The lighter aspects of the film deliver some necessary flourishes as well, preventing the movie from getting mired in standard relationship drama which always seems to loom as a potential threat. While I think there are underdeveloped aspects to the film, such as Julie's relationships with her parents and her complete lack of any, even casual, friendships outside of her boyfriends, the sides of Julie we do see are explored in depth as she blunders her way through her life often leaving wreckage in her wake not unlike a oblivious toddler blissfully unaware at how ungracefully it makes its way across the room before eventually finding more solid footing.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: The Worst Person in the World
  • IMDb: link

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