Worst Person in the World, The (2021)

A romance drama that is also a comedy and an elegy, Trier’s introspective new film has an understated, layered quality—and some cinematic tricks up its sleeves— exploring what this era’s ennui among millennials might feel like. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review #2,364

Dir. Joachim Trier
2021 | Norway | Drama/Romance | 128 mins | 1.85:1 | Norwegian
R21 (passed clean) for sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and some language

Cast: Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, Maria Grazia Di Meo, Herbert Nordrum. Hans Olav Brenner
Plot: The chronicles of four years in the life of Julie, a young woman who navigates the troubled waters of her love life and struggles to find her career path, leading her to take a realistic look at who she really is.
Awards: Won Best Actress & Nom. for Palme d’Or (Cannes); Nom. for 2 Oscars – Best International Feature & Best Original Screenplay
International Sales: MK2 (SG: Anticipate Pics)

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Millennials; Modern Ennui; Finding Oneself
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse

Viewed: The Projector
Spoilers: No

The films of Joachim Trier don’t particularly resonate with me as much as I would like them to, but their intentions are clear-eyed. 

In his latest and possibly buzziest work of his career thus far, The Worst Person in the World has ridden on a wave of critical support in recent weeks, garnering two Oscar nominations for Best International Feature and Best Original Screenplay. 

A more interesting film to me than Louder Than Bombs (2015) and Thelma (2017), Worst Person has an understated, layered quality that invites a not so straightforward reading of its themes, chief of which is its exploration of this era’s ennui among millennials and how that might feel like. 

It is a composed work of various tones that don’t feel dissociating as they overlap—Trier’s film may be a romance drama at heart, but its chameleon-like nature means that it is equally adept at being an introspective comedy or a wistful elegy. 

“Yes, I do love you. But I also don’t.”

Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie (both worked with Trier before) are excellent as the romantic couple, Julie and Aksel, with a fifteen-year age gap. 

But when another man in a spontaneous encounter connects with Julie on a deep, personal level, Julie, as insecure about the future as anybody else of her generation, begins to have conflicting thoughts. 

It may be too easy to regard Worst Person as a coming-of-age or love triangle-type film—Trier deliberately challenges these genre and narrative conventions with a conspicuous sleight-of-hand, structuring the story in 14 chapters including the bookends, plus delightfully revealing some cinematic tricks up its sleeves. 

I won’t wax too lyrical about Worst Person because I personally don’t feel that strongly for it, but it’s a good film and I hope you will go see it. 

Grade: B+




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