D: Joachim Trier. Cast: Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, Herbert Nordrum, Hans Olav Brenner. 15, 128 minutes.
If someone asked me what millennial anxiety feels like, I could point them to Joachim Trier’s crisis comedy, The worst person in the world. Whenever his heroine Julie (Renate Reinsve) is alone – really alone, as one usually goes home in the middle of the night or early in the morning – she starts to cry. The modern world can be so deafeningly loud, a rush of what the film’s narrator calls “updates, feeds, unsolvable global problems” that it is only in absolute comfort that we are forced to question whether or not we are truly happy. I’ve cried home on far too many walks in the dark. It took me until Trier’s film to realize why.
The worst person in the world carries a shimmering sense of finality. It is the rare work of art that has actually been invested in that is why an entire generation can seem so aimless and indecisive. We’re far too content to simply wallow in chaos, but Trier – a filmmaker of inexhaustible sensitivity – seeks more. Julie is a modern-day Goldilocks who dips her spoon into an endless line of porridge bowls. She goes to medical school. Then she decides to specialize in psychiatry. Then she drops the whole thing in favor of photography (“actually, she was a visual person,” the narration states).
She jumps into a relationship with an older man, Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), who is known for a number of Fritz the cat-like graphic novels about an unrepentantly horny anthropomorphic bobcat. He wants children now. She doesn’t. “You seem to be waiting for something. I don’t know what,” he replies spitefully. It ends just as unsatisfactorily when she flees into the arms of mild-mannered bartender Eivind (Herbert Nordrum), who has no particular plans for his future. Trier has divided its story into 12 chapters framed by a prologue and an epilogue – a conceit that plunges the viewer headfirst into Julie’s life. She’s 29. Suddenly she’s 30. Her hair is blonde, then pink, then brown.
Julie is chasing after things – men, jobs, desires – before she even knows what she wants. It is the unintended consequence of freedom of choice without freedom of expectation. As the camera slides over a century of family photos, the narration of how many children each ancestral matriarch bore, it’s not with any twisted kind of longing. Instead, Julie is the first of them to grapple with the knowledge that every child born now will suffer the full-blooded wrath of climate change. That seems like something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.
The worst person in the world is the last entry in a loose film trilogy from Trier. Not only does it have an actor, Danielsen Lie, and a co-writer, Eskil Vogt, in common with 2006 repetition and 2011s Oslo, 31.8, but a certain purity of emotion. Trier is so adept at the language of the inner self that he can take any fantasy flight he pleases without risking kinship. The film’s standout scene is simply Julie’s wishes come true: the world literally stops as she runs from lover to lover, gifted with a sudden moment of absolute clarity. And Reinsve, nominee for a Bafta and winner of the Best Actress award at Cannes, brings exciting kinetics to this space. your eyes sparkle. The blood rushes to her cheeks. It’s the kind of performance you can fall in love with with all your heart. And to the end The worst person in the worldI felt like I would give anything just to see Julie find a moment of calm.
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/worst-person-in-the-world-review-b2042160.html The Worst Person in the World Review: A crisis comedy that truly understands a thousand years of agony