The Worst Person in the World

The Worst Person in the World ★★★★★

I fell in love with Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World pretty much from the get-go. In its lively prologue of false starts, our loveable, hopeless protagonist Julie (the radiant Renate Reinsve), an Oslo millennial in her late 20s, storms through prospective professions – surgeon, psychologist, photographer – before taking a “temp” job at a local bookstore. She also cycles through boyfriends, eventually setting her sights on older cartoonist Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), the celebrated creator of a cult underground comic about a decidedly un-PC feline. “Maybe we should agree to stop seeing each other,” Aksel says in bed one night. “You’re much younger than I am. You’ll start to question who you are.” Predictably, they fall completely in love.

It’s not long after Julie moves in with Aksel that the cracks begin to show: he wants kids, she doesn’t; he’s successful, she feels like she’s floating through life. So we can’t be too judgmental when Julie spontaneously gate-crashes a wedding and meets Eivind (Herbert Nordrum), with whom she spends the early hours of the morning probing the limits of what “counts” as cheating – they tell each other secrets, smell each other’s armpits, watch each other pee – before vowing not to stay in touch. Naturally, it doesn’t work out like that.

Does this make Julie the worst person in the world? If the title is a nod to the self-deprecation and self-loathing that accompanies just trying to figure your shit out, it’s also a reassuring reminder that, well, the worst person in the world probably isn’t you. As the film moves through months and years of Julie’s quarter-life crisis, anxieties about the future are never far off – what she wants to do, who she wants to be. All the more special, then, that The Worst Person in the World is ultimately a paean to the present tense, as made beautifully clear in a moment of cinematic magic too wonderful to spoil. Brimming with insight and wit, this is a future classic.

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Final entry taken from a piece I wrote for Cinema As We Know It on my ten favourite films of 2021.

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