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If you’re going to see a film this weekend it should be at a cinema to catch a screening of THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD, a subversive romantic drama from Joachim Trier that has critics purring and audiences turning out in sizeable numbers. However, for this week’s Friday Night Film pick, we wanted to pay homage to the Norwegian filmmaker’s previous feature - his queer psychological thriller THELMA.
THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD sees Trier complete his informal “Oslo Trilogy”, along with REPRISE and OSLO, AUGUST 31st, with the trio of films sharing a spiritual connection through their meditations on loneliness and identity in modern-day Oslo. While the Oslo films could be considered coming-of-age tales for grown-ups, THELMA’s titular character undergoes her own path of self-discovery with the more conventional ‘female-teenager-of-repressive-parents-seeks-sexual-awakening’ trope.
Raised in near isolation by her conservative parents, Thelma begins to experience violent seizures while studying biology in her freshman year at Oslo University. Her mental state is challenged further when her strict upbringing is in direct conflict with newfound sexual feelings towards fellow classmate Anya. With the attraction mutual, and with moments of intimacy becoming more frequent, Thelma’s internal struggles manifest into shocking episodes of telekinetic power that, while frightening and dramatic, demonstrate her explosive desire for self-liberation.
This supernatural development does not see the film fall into the familiar trappings of cheap thrills for shock factor. The narrative always feels grounded in realism, aided in no small part by Eili Harboe’s powerful and vulnerable performance, yet is also elevated by Trier’s visually arresting and poetic imagery.