The Worst Person in the World

The Worst Person in the World ★★★★★

It’s all too tempting to narrativize ourselves as the singular archenemy to the goodness of all humanity. 

Joachim Trier’s coming-of-age story is one of the first to feel singularly of its own era; that is, the era that so often is labeled as either late empire or end of the world. Who better to feature in such a setting than a young woman who self-brands as the worst person in that already dead (optimistically, just dying) world? 

But, this narcissistic ownership of nihilistic hyperbole is, still, an act of egotism. Though, a forgivable one, when all the woes of the planet are routinely pinned on non-recyclers and anyone with an automobile. 

Trier’s film, “The Worst Person in the World,” is at once hyper-real, and hyper-heightened fantasy. There are portions of the work framed as near documentary in style. Then, other sections soar with inventive abstraction. Both are somewhat fetishized in their respective polarization. It is the journey to navigating between them that is the path needed to be taken by Renate Reinsve’s ambitious drifter, Julie. 

Many Gen Z and Millennial viewers of “Worst Person” will no doubt watch and be reminded of their current poet laureate, Sally Rooney. Like in the novels of Rooney, Trier’s characters tangle in messy sexual exchanges; swapping between beds, lovers, and lives. Definition of self is probed by crashing one’s own catastrophes into those of others. 

In such transient lives at the end of all things, it can only be a compliment to take on the title of being someone else’s worst person in the world.

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