A Brief Review of The Worst Person In The World
The introduction of the main character is one of the best character introductions I've ever seen. We met Julie as a medical student in Oslo. She’s doing well in school and presumably has a bright future ahead, but something isn’t right. She doesn’t feel fulfilled in her chosen major. A change must be made. So, after a brief conversation with her mother, Julie breaks up with her boyfriend and switches to another major. Her chosen profession is psychology. This field also involves looking inside of people, but in a completely different way. This is what's right for Julie. Helping people is where her true passion lies… until she discovers that it’s not. Once again something isn’t right. Once again she is unfulfilled. What can be missing now?
As fate would have it, Julie's natural inclination is to work in visual arts. She’s not a doctor or a Psychologist, but a photographer. What action does she take now? Isn’t it obvious? She spends her student loans on cameras and lighting equipment and sets up her own studio. This brings Julie into a completely different world. She’s no longer a college student surrounded by other young people who, like her, are struggling to find themselves. Now she’s swimming in a social pool of artists that are of a variety of different ages and backgrounds. This leads to her meeting Aksel Willman, a creator of a popular and shamelessly politically incorrect underground comic series called Bobcat. Despite Aksel being 10 years older than Julie, the two fall in love and move in with each other. This sequence of events transpired for one reason and one reason only. Julie doesn’t know who she is. She’s young, impulsive, and incredibly self centered. These qualities are what cause us to distance ourselves from her; but can we honestly separate ourselves from these qualities? Wasn’t everyone at least a little like Julie at one point in their lives? These are the questions that director Joachim Trier forces us to confront with this film, and by the time the movie ends, we come to realize that maybe all of us can sometimes be described as The Worst Person in The World.
I was in love with this movie from beginning to end. For the two hours I sat in the theater I was thinking to myself, “This is exactly how a movie about this kind of person should be.” A movie about this kind of person should be broken up into twelve fragmented chapters, with tones ranging from laugh out loud funny to tear jerkingly sorrowful . It should have surreal sequences where time stops and Julie runs freely through the traffic filled streets of Oslo. Most importantly, the character's story should come to the conclusion that it comes to. Everything about this movie made sense, even in the ways in which it purposefully doesn’t make sense. It’s a movie about life as it is presented to us in a way that imitates life as we wish it was. The free flowing camera work, the uplifting soundtrack, and the metaphorical arthouse scenes are all there to act as a front for this upsetting and realistic story about a woman who learns that making a change in your life doesn’t automatically count as taking control. That perhaps choices shouldn’t always be made based on what feels right in the moment. This is a lesson that one would wish more people could wrap their head around.
Though she’s been working in the film industry for over a decade, I was completely unaware of the lead actress, Renate Reinsve, before seeing this movie. I think most people in the USA would tell you the same. Let me assure you that we will all be remembering her from here on out. The performance she gives is the kind that the phrase “break out performance” was made for. There's something about her that I find incredibly magnetic. It makes it impossible for me to turn my eyes away. She is a beautiful human being who embodies Julie's flaws and human complexities effortlessly. She does such a great job that some audience members may even find it discomforting. It’s somewhat confusing when you find a character who can be so narcissistic and self serving to also be so relatable. The blame for this confusion falls on Reinsve, and she should wear it like the badge of honor that it is.
The Worst Person In the World can be described with many adjectives. Whoever decides what words get slapped onto a Blu-ray cover will have a field day with this one . It's funny, it's confusing, it's uplifting, it’s tragic, it’s thoughtful, it’s entertaining, it’s exhilarating, it’s depressing, and it’s unique. Out of the plethora of words to pick, I can only go with one. That word is, real. The Worst Person in The World is real. It’s life being reflected back at us. Sometimes we like what we see, and sometimes we aren’t so sure. Much like the heroine of the piece, we can’t seem to make up our minds.