laila’s review published on Letterboxd:
i visited my grandmother the other day and everything went as it usually goes: we took our usual places in her living room, two big crystal vases between us distorting her face as she told me the same repeated stories of cousins and uncles while avoided the same disagreeable or unpleasant topics. that familiar, post lunch boredom filled the space and i wasn’t really paying attention until she casually mentioned that supported a football team different from the one she always did and the entire family supports.
at 94 years of age, she’d never been particularly enthusiastic about football, as it was always more of my grandfather’s interest, one he passed on to most of their children. to hear her turning away from something so old and true was, however, quite strange. football holds an almost religious status, it’s a fundamental element of group identity, something to bind people through moments of hardship and joy, a shared history to help create values. one’s supposed to support one team through the entirety of their life, so i truly was taken aback and confused when she said that, though i didn’t give it so much thought at the time.
this fact took place two days before i watched the longly anticipated the worst person in the world and, despite the starkly different contexts, the situation with my grandmother surprisingly took shape as a suitable example for one of the film’s main themes—a need to reinvent oneself that never truly leaves despite the age. the film depicts within twelve chapters, an epilogue and prologue, a number of years of the life of a young woman who can’t really commit to anything, whether it’s on the romantic or professional field. she’s restless and fears she won’t find her passion and that her love life will become stagnant, always second guessing her choices and not addressing the true causes of her distress, wondering if there’s a better option out there. she goes through many occupations and two big relationships through which her anxieties are exposed.
this general sensation of dissatisfaction is a product of our times, heightened by the constant comparisons always there to remind us of our inadequacies. there are so many options that would make the branches from bell jar’s fig tree reach the moon, yet they seem fickle and their fruits frustrating. still, there’s a bit of shame in growing up later even if nowadays adolescence seems to extend itself for more years than it ever did. trier is delicate yet blunt showing this with the main character’s story, carefully weaving together a quiet beauty and the excitement of new love with this oppressive fluidity, these myriad of opportunities that only confuse instead of motivate, that make it extremely hard to settle and focus, to be content.
those intermittent changes of personality and maturity obviously have a deep effect on relationships that indispensably involve more than one person. while in my grandma’s case altering an old personality trait could be understood as a way to disown my grandfather’s influence and preferences, for the main character in trier’s film it means the coming in and out of relationships as soon as a realisation occurs or something starts bothering her.
finding someone on the same place is hard but accepting a difference in growth also is, especially when the other person has an influence on what one can become, and some changes, like the one lived by einvid’s girlfriend, can make relationships become impossible. nonetheless, differences are unavoidable and can be seen as positive, for they keep a relationship from becoming stagnant.
i have never been like julia though, and found more of myself in aksel. like him, i have the same interests since i was twelve, always accumulating useless knowledge and objects, always looking for something to excite me the same way the first time i read book or poem or listened to an album did. i’m loyal as dog, for better or for worse. it took me around seven years to get over my first and only broken heart, over an unrequited love, something not even realised, and i fear the possibility of having it broken once again. i’m not as old as aksel but i get what he means when he says that a period in time has ended and because of that i feel apart from my generation as i’m not active on the big social medias and always avoided them, the only online places where i’m present don’t revolve around me.
i do feel rather lonely most of the time but as i sat alone at the cinema, two couples sitting each side of me, the credits came up with an adapted english version of águas de março which beautifully summed up my whole experience with the film—it was familiar yet strange, strange yet familiar, and at that moment i felt grateful, eager and a little bit less alone.