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Theatrical The Worst Person in the World (2021)

JoeStemme

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Title: The Worst Person in the World

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Director: Joachim Trier

Cast: Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, Herbert Nordrum, Hans Olav Brenner, Helene Bjørnebye, Vidar Sandem, Maria Grazia Di Meo, Lasse Gretland, Karen Røise Kielland, Marianne Krogh, Thea Stabell, Deniz Kaya, Eia Skjønsberg, Nataniel Nordnes, Rebekka Jynge, Gisle Tveito, Anna Dworak, Karla Nitteberg Aspelin, Sofia Schandy Bloch, Savannah Marie Schei, Ruby Dagnall, Ine Jansen

Release: 2021-10-13

Runtime: 128

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.

Talented Norwegian Writer-Director Joachim Trier's brilliant finale to his informal 'Oslo Trilogy', is like the others in the triad (REPRISE, OSLO AUGUST 31st) about 20-30 something young adults searching for some success or meaning to their lives. All three feature the terrific actor Anders Danielsen Lie (also seen this year in BERGMAN ISLAND) and are set in Norway's capital of Oslo.

Unlike the other pair of fine films which focused on men, this one centers on a 30ish woman Julie (Renate Reinsve) who, while very educated, has a hard time focusing on what her career should be as she bounces from going to Medical school to pursuing Photography to writing. She ends up working in a bookstore to make ends meet. The two men in her life are opposites: Aksel (Lie) is in his mid-40s and a successful graphic comics writer; Einvind (Herbert Nordrum) is closer to Julie in age, and is even less ambitious career-wise whiling away as a coffee shop barista.

Trier and frequent collaborator Eskil Vogt's screenplay employ the literary device of breaking up the movie into 12 chapters (plus a prologue and epilogue). That choice risks for the film to become too episodic and lacking in momentum. But, the screenplay is so deft and detailed, that it actually becomes more fulfilling than if it had taken a traditional narrative arc. Even though Julie may float from one phase to another in her personal and professional life, the film itself never feels adrift. One always senses that Trier and Vogt have a firm grasp on the structure. The flow. The vision. Further, by being free of the bonds of having to tell each and every movement in the piece chronologically, it gives the filmmakers an opportunity to experiment with each chapter, never more so than in the infectious centerpiece of the film in Chapter Five (“Bad Timing” - and, no, it's not CGI!) with Julie running through the streets as if maybe not the “Worst” Person In The World -- seemingly the “Only” Person.

None of Trier's formidable Direction and the exceptional screenplay would work without the actors, particularly Lie and Reinsve (Nordrum is also quite good). Reinsve, in particular, is a revelation. She had a small role in OSLO AUGUST 31st, but her career had never really taken off. But, here, as the lead, she truly soars. Julie's emotions run the gamut from broadly comic to heartbreakingly vulnerable. The sensuality is also raw and real, and Reinsve makes her character's passions palpable as well. Lie has had a more established resume, but, he's never done finer work than here. Aksel is as needy as Julie in many ways despite his outward bravado, and Lie deftly handles the subtleties with measured aplomb. The tech aspects are well done with some fine editing, a decent score and Kasper Tuxen's 35mm Cinematography.

WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD has brought Trier to the forefront of the cinema world's attention, and rightly so. And, Reinsve and Lie should have even more chances to expand and grow. It's a superb romantic dramatic comedy for those looking for substance with their laughs and tears. It's also one of the very finest films in recent memory.
 

bujaki

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I'm looking forward to this film. The Criterion Channel ran a couple of Trier's films recently, and I have a few in my library. Always interesting to watch his work.
 

Jake Lipson

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I saw this yesterday with a friend and we weren't particularly impressed. It just didn't work for me.

The central performance from Reinsve was great. I would give her an A+, but the film that she is in is a C. I don't understand the Oscar nomination for best screenplay at all. It seemed all over the place to me. There were some interesting ideas in it, but there were also other things that didn't go anywhere, and the tone veered wildly between sections. I also didn't like a lot of the more extreme sexual references and discussion because it seemed to be in there just for shock value and not to meaningfully advance the story. I thought it was too long, but I also think the ending was abrupt and needed to be clearer.

I wanted to like this, but it ended up just being frustrating. I realize that this probably puts me in the minority. That's fine. I wouldn't discourage anyone who is interested in it from seeing it, but I wouldn't recommend it strongly either.
 

JoeStemme

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I'm looking forward to this film. The Criterion Channel ran a couple of Trier's films recently, and I have a few in my library. Always interesting to watch his work.
Definitely see REPRISE and OSLO AUGUST 31ST before seeing WORST PERSON. If nothing else, it shows Trier's growth as a filmmaker. LOUDER THAN BOMBS is ok, but the script just wasn't there
 

JoeStemme

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There were some interesting ideas in it, but there were also other things that didn't go anywhere, and the tone veered wildly between sections. I also didn't like a lot of the more extreme sexual references and discussion because it seemed to be in there just for shock value and not to meaningfully advance the story. I thought it was too long, but I also think the ending was abrupt and needed to be clearer.
Obviously, what you consider weaknesses are exactly what I see as strengths. The tonal shifts echo Julie's. I wouldn't consider them "extreme", but the sexuality is a necessary component in understanding what makes her character tick - they are certainly not there to shock. I dare say that there is nothing overtly titillating about those scenes. If Trier wanted to he could have clearly upped the ante considerably.
And, as to the ending. It was not perfect. In keeping with the filmmakers' 'chapter' strategy, it just was a way of leading the viewer into considering what chapter 13 might bring.
 

Jake Lipson

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Obviously, what you consider weaknesses are exactly what I see as strengths.
Sure. I'm happy that you enjoyed it and got more out of it than I did. I think for me I just didn't care about anything that was happening to Julie, and therefore the film fell flat for me. I recognize that I am in the minority and that's okay. If other people love this movie, that's great. It just wasn't for me.
 

bujaki

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It doesn't drive Drive My Car off the awards road for me, but it's certainly my second choice now that I've seen them all. The final encounter with Aksel is gut wrenching and his acting is simply superb.
 
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