The Worst Person in the World

The Worst Person in the World ★★★★★

"Can you be a feminist and still enjoy being mouth-fucked?"

Sorry, Joachim, Jezebel beat you to this one last year.

The movie that most of you cheapskates stole online a few months ago is finally legitimately out in cinemas, and with its Oscar nominations I couldn't have been more excited to see Joachim Trier's latest, Verdens verste menneske ["The Worst Person in the World"]. I can guarantee I watched this in a way few if any of you did: in a tiny theatre that seats 25 people, where I was the youngest there by over two decades. The retirees in this liberal LBGTQ-friendly beach town are amazing.

And it lives up to the hype unlike 2022 nominee maybe only as much as Ryūsuke Hamaguchi's Drive My Car did, but for so very different reasons. What may, in time, very well be known as the quintessential Millennial romantic comedy-drama is nothing short of brilliant in its universal truths and looks at modern life amidst changing social mores and pressures.

It's a stupendous work and the best of his career, capped with a life-changing out-of-nowhere performance from Renate Reinsve.

She plays Julie, a bit away from 30, as we follow a few years of her life straddling this age landmark. First studying to be a doctor, then a psychologist, then a photographer. It's okay, she dates a couple guys then too, and Mom is cool with it as long as she's happy. She seems to be when she meets Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), a comic artist about 15 years older than her, although they argue about kids in the future. She's still figuring things out, working in a bookstore while his comic is turned into a movie, all the while they see friends with families though it doesn't make Julie too eager to have one. Along comes a stranger she meets when she crashes a wedding reception, Eivind (Herbert Nordrum), younger and quite the opposite of Aksel, and though they playfully "do not cheat," the sparks fly every moment they spend together. One day, after a year or two with Aksel and past her 30th birthday, Julie stops for a moment.

Then, she flips a switch, and pauses the world. Or, at least, every person in Oslo.

The title comes from one of those colloquialisms you find in regions or countries that don't always translate perfectly to all cultures. Norway has a history, in fact a deep-seeded relationship, with self-deprecating humor and sarcasm. Saying "I'm the worst person in the world" isn't uncommon when one makes either a faux pas or even a stupid mistake. For the younger generation in fact it's probably even more common, as Julie shows, with immense pressure to "figure it out" faster yet also cram so much of your life in before you settle down. A montage of Julie's mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, etc. shows that they balanced work and family, or at least find purpose in having kids, usually many of them before they reached her age. In one of the film's many moments of dark comedy, we learn that her great-times-something-grandmother died at 30, after of course birthing many children.

She navigates male privilege, feminist clichés, 21st Century headaches, social media pitfalls, parental neglect, toxic relationships, rewarding sexual Independence, and everything life throws at you with the kind of spirit you don't often see in romantic dramas with a female lead: she fucks up, A LOT, but not because we're meant to be taught a lesson or to use her as a foil or to just chuckle along and commiserate with this clown. Nope, Trier and his long-time collaborator Eskil Vogt are just showing it like it is, subverting every trope of the genres it touches. It has the energy and youthful exuberance of Reprise, the tragedy and sorrow of Oslo, August 31st, and the female empowerment amidst complicated love of Thelma. (Fortunately it doesn't share much with the clunky Louder Than Bombs, except its brilliant editor Olivier Bugge Coutté and composer Ola Fløttum.)

It's the culminating work of a still-young career and a thrilling emotional roller-coaster of a movie. There are moments that blew me away with sheer exuberance, then quickly left my mouth agape with stunning pathos. (And moments that somehow did both at the same time. Remind me to try magic mushrooms someday.)

Life is short. Live it. Fuck up, make up, buck up, shake up. Be the best, be the worst.

Literally a perfect movie. Perfect. Unbelievably amazing. Holy shit. This review does not do it justice.

Friend who wrote a better review than me: MaxRose1888.
Find others like them on my two special lists here and here!

Added to My Subjective List of the Best Narrative Films.
Added to Joachim Trier ranked.
Added to The Narrative Films of 2022, ranked.
Added to 2022 Academy Awards Nominees, ranked.

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