REVIEW: ‘Worst Person in the World’ is a well-made Norwegian feature

“The Worst Person in the World” is far from the worst movie in the world.

This film, from Norway, stars Renate Reinsve as Julie, a young woman who’s having trouble deciding what to do in life. The movie starts with Julie studying to become a doctor, before switching majors to psychology. Early on in the movie, she does this again, deciding to pursue a career in photography.

Her romantic life is fairly similar. Early in the picture, she meets and begins a relationship with Aksel, a successful comic artist. As their relationship is humming along, though, she meets another man, Eivind (Herbert Nordrum). Like her academic career, Julie feels herself being pulled in more than one direction romantically.

Director and writer Joachim Trier offers audiences one of the more insightful looks into the wanderlust that many millennials can, and do, experience. Julie is a character who is offered several opportunistic paths, while also dealing with societal pressures and norms, which results in her wanting to move forward, but without a clear idea of which direction.

The movie is broken into 12 chapters, and each one showcases Julie taking a step in a direction, and the consequences of doing so. As each chapter unfolds, Julie is met with both happiness and disappointment, causing her to rethink what she wants from life.

Because of this, an audience gets to understand Julie’s creative ambitions, her thoughts on motherhood and what she wants out of a relationship. While the multi-chapter aspect allows several subjects to be explored, though, it can also be a hindrance at times.

The film does in fact feature some great scenes, but it can also be rather scattered. The transition from chapter-to-chapter in some cases tend to interrupt the flow of the movie.

WorstPersonBlog
Courtesy NEON.

Another issue with the film is the character Julie herself. There are times when she comes across like an amalgamation of the millennial age group, and she ends up losing a bit of agency herself.

It’s not as though the character is only a blank slate meant to be a reflection of a demographic, but there are moments where she seems to represent a type of person, rather than just a character the audience is compelled by.

That’s not to say that Julie is a bad or uninteresting character. She is in fact interesting to follow, there are simply moments when the movie is more focused on exploring exploring modern relationships and lifestyles, rather than what the character is truly feeling.

In other moments, though, the film is deeply intimate with what Julie is going through. For example, one sequence where she’s running through a city with time frozen around her to meet Eivind is one of the highlights of the picture.

Part of what makes these scenes work so well is Reinsve. Her performance is definitely worthy of praise across the board. The film’s spotlight is always on Julie and Reinsve is commanding in her portrayal, ensuring every aspect of the character is well captured for the viewer.

The picture also has great artistry to it. The aforementioned moment where time stops around Julie is a great example of how well crafted this movie is. The picture also boasts one of the trippiest drug scenes put to film in a while.

“The Worst Person in the World” is a bit disjointed and the way it handles Julie can result in the viewer feeling somewhat detached from the character. However, what’s explored here is intriguing and the lead performance is superb. Thanks to that, and how fine tuned the filmmaking is, it gets a 3.75 out of 5. 

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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