The third film in director Joachim Trier’s “Oslo Trilogy,” The Worst Person in the World provides a series of snapshots in one young woman’s (Renate Reinsve) life over several years living and loving in the Norwegian city. Since its release, The Worst Person in the World has gone on to receive two Academy Award nominations – in the category of Best International Feature Film and Best Original Screenplay for Trier and Eskil Vogt.
Here is the film’s official summary in its production notes:
Director Joachim Trier returns with another modern twist on a classically constructed character portrait of contemporary life in Oslo. Chronicling four years in the life of Julie, THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD examines one woman’s quest for love and meaning in the modern world. Fluidly told in twelve chapters, the film features a breakout performance by Cannes Best Actress winner Renate Reinsve as she explores new professional avenues and embarks on relationships with two very different men (Anders Danielsen Lie and Herbert Nordrum) in her search for happiness and identity.Film synopsis on official film site.
I try not to include summaries in my write-ups because part of the fun in one’s cinematic journey is to discover a film, without any set expectations. I made the exception in the case of this film. Why? You may ask …
Well, I feel it is important if for no other reason than we recognize some things get lost in translation. In my cursory Google ™ search on this title, I noted Wikipedia entry; the first line reads:
The Worst Person in the World (Norwegian: Verdens verste menneske) is a 2021 dark romantic comedy-drama film directed by Joachim Trier. It is the third film in the director’s “Oslo Trilogy”, following Reprise (2006) and Oslo, August 31st (2011).Wikipedia entry
It is only one sentence, but the categorization of this film as a “dark romantic comedy-drama” seems off. I chalk this down to my American sensibilities. Even at their darkest, I do not ever imagine dark rom-coms such as My Best Friend’s Wedding or Grosse Pointe Blank in a similar light as The Worst Person in the World. These films MAY have a melancholic thread running through them, but ultimately they have an upbeat, quirky spirit that leans in on the audience’s belief in some sort of Happily Ever After to make them more palatable to the viewer.
With The World Person in the World, there are moments where you chuckle and moments of sadness. But that is life, you take the bitter with the sweet. Nor is the film a coming-of-age tale. When we are introduced to Julie (Reinsve), she is a fully formed, emotionally stunted woman who is trying to find her way. Haven’t we all been there in some form or fashion?
A Fascinating Character Study
Julie comes across as an authentic character who does things that both endear her to you as well as enrage. The latter is a result of her self-centered motivations. Normally such blatant selfishness portrayed on a screen immediately slot her into an unfavorable light. However, quite the opposite happened when I watched her. I didn’t fall in love with her, but I wanted to know what the chapters in her life would reveal.
Also, I could be wrong -but I do not think Trier is asking us as audience members to crown her as some romantic heroine. Rather, we are there, as an audience, to merely observe the passage of time and her life in this window. That brings me back to the authenticity of it all. Reinsve delivers with a very natural delivery which despite all I have said above, draws you to the character and makes her at minimum watchable and for many, a very relatable character.
Where Can You See This?
Since its North American debut at last month’s Sundance Film Festival (where I saw it), The Worst Person in the World is available in limited release. Based on the search I did this morning for tickets, it still looks like it is in select theaters. I imagine the buzz surrounding the film means you can find one of your local indie cinemas carrying it.