The Worst Person In the World
Photo | Oslo Pictures
Swedish sleeper hit “The Worst Person in the World” is worth the hype. A seriocomic narrative that definitely hinges on the appeal of its female lead, Julie, played by Renate Reinsve, this film is also well written and full of insightful moments from all of the characters in Julie’s orbit. Viewers are treated to four years of naval-gazing as the irresolute Julie skips merrily from career to career and relationship to relationship, and her self-indulgence is very much the point. Hence the title.
In college, Julie switched majors from medicine to psychology. At first, friends and family protested at her fecklessness, but over the four years this story covers, as she decides photography is her real calling, they get used to it. After some casual relationships, she has a serious boyfriend in Askel (Anders Danielsen Lie), whose age difference is just enough to cause problems for them. When they spend time with his friends, Julie’s immaturity and unwillingness to have children with Askel comes into focus.
This is a wordy, conversational film that cannot help but conjure the greatest relationship works of Woody Allen, when two characters squabble affectionately over bookshelf space in the halcyon early days of their relationship, as the film’s soundtrack plays “The Way You Look Tonight.” While this film, the third in the “Oslo Trilogy” from director Joachim Trier, is largely realistic in tone, it also features some sporadic flights of surrealist touches, again similar to “Annie Hall,” like when Allen breaks the fourth wall and produces Marshall McLuhan to support him in an argument.
In this film, there are some similar breaks in the action. At one point, Julie pauses life to explore a new relationship, and at another point, a narrator steps in to rate Julie’s progress in life compared to her female ancestors at the same age. These are just a few of the touches that make this film so effective, but overall, it was the force of the perfectly executed characters that make “The Worst Person in the World” special and unforgettable.
This is a coming-of-age story that just keeps coming of age. Life is indeed about the journey for her, and the message of the film might be that the destination is an illusion, not just for Julie but for those whose paths she crosses. As our heroine meanders through life, the loose threads of her past are expertly revisited, and the fates that befall the supporting cast almost hit harder than hers did for me. I guess it was the way these encounters illustrated her place in an always-changing world that really moved me. Her motives might be flippant or ill-advised, but the effect of her actions added up to a profound portrait of life as it is really lived.
This film was also achingly romantic at times. This is appropriate since it often finds Julie chasing the romantic high of a new relationship. The heady call of the unknown is irresistible to her, and the filmmakers and actors have created some incredibly charming and beautiful interludes. They mine both fresh new loves and older, more painful relationships for passion and pathos.
Sometimes when I write this column, I am simply describing a film so readers know what it is and what it’s like so they can decide if they want to watch it. But other times, I am genuinely excited to share a film that I loved, and I loved “The Worst Person in the World.” Reinsve gave a truly nuanced and unexpected performance that was so much more than charming and relatable. She was that, but she also gave reactions and interpretations that were fascinating and idiosyncratic and original. And as the artist boyfriend, Danielsen Lie stole my heart.
Be warned, there is a level of nudity and graphic intimacy present that could be described as European. Let that detail cinch your interest in watching “The Worst Person in the World.”
“The Worst Person in the World” is now playing at AMC Mobile 16 and is also available to stream.
New This Week:
“Everything Everywhere All at Once”: Directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as Daniels, the film is a hilarious and big-hearted sci-fi action-adventure about an exhausted Chinese American woman (Michelle Yeoh) who can’t seem to finish her taxes. AMC Mobile 16, Crescent Theater.
“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore”: Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows the powerful, dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts magi-zoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to lead an intrepid team of wizards and witches. They soon encounter an array of old and new beasts as they clash with Grindelwald’s growing legion of followers. All listed multiplex theaters.
This page is available to our subscribers. Join us right now to get the latest local news from local reporters for local readers.
The best deal is found by clicking here. Click here right now to find out more. Check it out.
Already a member of the Lagniappe family? Sign in by clicking here