The Worst Person in the World

The Worst Person in the World ★★★½

Bites off more than it can chew, but I kind of love it for that. It feels very aware of itself as a fresh and current take on modern romance, and it is, but I didn't find much particularly relatable or revelatory about its portrayal of relationships. The moments of romantic sparks are wonderful, as are some more pensive moments, but the conflicts seem a little underdeveloped to me - Julie's dynamic with each of her partners never has the complexity of a real relationship, which isn't something I demand from a movie but I do sense this prides itself on its "spot-on"-ness. And maybe it is for some people, just not me.

There are some swings at the overwhelming presence of social media, ethical consumption and cancel culture (among other things), some of which are remarkably astute and some of which made me want to stab my eyes out, but when it starts to show its hand as a film also about mortality, things came into focus a little more for me, just as they do for Julie...perhaps. Let's put it this way: the big centrepiece sequence that has dominated all the marketing for this film, in which Julie runs through the streets of Oslo in a rapturous moment of freedom, works better to me as a piece with the film's reflections on life's transience and how clarity, purpose and happiness (all the same thing, maybe) can be impossible to find while the world keeps hurtling along, rather than simply just a romantic flight of fancy.

I don't think the chapter structure does the movie any favours, but I like how weighty this feels while still moving nimbly along. I feel like I've been through something with Julie, more than, say, Frances Ha. I want to give almost all the credit to Renate Reinsve, not because she makes me all fluttery but because the moments where nothing is said - where she is simply standing by a windowsill or watching a sunrise or stopping to look out over a city - hit harder than anything else here. In her face alone we follow thousands of actions considered and abandoned, paths not taken, thoughts half-formed and then fled from. Sometimes a single shot of her conveys more about the indecision of life than the rest of the movie, and that's great.

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