The Worst Person in the World

The Worst Person in the World ★★★★½

Søren Kierkegaard defined anxiety as the "dizziness of freedom." In many ways, the title of Joachim Trier's film The Worst Person in the World captures this anxiety of moral choices, as we have the capacity to entertain even the most terrifying decisions. Just as we may feel a sense of fear by even considering the possibility of hurling ourselves off of a cliff, we see Julie, the film's protagonist, on the precipice of adulthood, contemplating all the ways that she could change the trajectory of her life, for better or worse. Trier cleverly centers his narrative around a particular generation where there was a dramatic increase in the amount of choice and freedom, highlighting the ways that technology has resulted in heightened anxiety as much as it has improved our quality of life.

There is a moment in the film where Julie's partner, who is at least a decade older, questions her reasons for not wanting to have kids yet. Unable to articulate an answer, Julie expresses what a lot of us feel when presented with a choice with that level of permanence - a longing to experience more of what life has to offer or "get our lives in order" before assuming that level of responsibility. The funny thing is that much like Julie, we can't always put our finger on what experiences or choices will bring us out of that anxiety, but the mere freedom to choose keeps us in a place of inaction, afraid to take responsibility for our decisions. Kierkegaard also popularized the adage that "life can only be understood by looking backward; but it must be lived looking forward." Trier's film manages to beautifully capture both the dizziness of looking into a myriad of possible futures, as well as the sobering reflections of looking back on a life lived.

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