Cast: Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, Herbert Nordrum, Hans Olav Brenner
Directed by Joachim Trier
‘The Worst Person in the World’ is a fairly ambiguous title for a film which tells the story of a nearly 30-something woman living in Oslo. Such an extreme description paints a picture of a truly terrible person, but as we watch these two hours of human troubles play out, you come to realise that although there may be moments where our lead, Julie, doesn’t exactly act in the best interests of those around her, these self-professed moments of being the ‘worst’ person are more internal than external – a feeling that I can imagine everyone in the audience has experienced at one time or another.
Divided up into twelve unequal chapters – both in length and emotional weight – the story navigates many of the formative moments within Julie’s post-adolescence. She has to confront the realities of her life as it currently is, and as it will soon be in the coming years. Long-term relationships, aspiring careers and family pressures are captured with beautiful elegance on the equally beautiful streets of Oslo, with the film selling the city along with its own story.
Of course, the tale of a late twenties character reluctant to face the fast approaching thirtieth birthday balloons is not a new story to the big screen, but there are always interesting ways to approach it. Earlier this year we saw ‘Tick, Tick… Boom’, which brought the story of a real-life musical composer who was unwilling to face a similar fate, but with a theatrical infusion to the narrative. ‘Worst Person in the World’ is just as creative, but in an entirely different form. The innermost desires of our questionable protagonist are fantasised through film manipulation, with a city put on pause allowing her to run into the arms of a new destiny, as well as an incredibly depicted impromptu acid-trip bringing to the foreground all the uncertainties and desires which comprise her being. By approaching such a story in this sporadic way, we delve deep into who Julie is as a person, and are able to interpret her actions with an understanding of her life experiences so far, and those which are soon to come, allowing each audience member to truly consider whether they’d describe her as ‘The Worst Person in the World’.
There are a few moments throughout the film where it feels as if the narrative has become slightly muddled, with some characters provided a great deal more weight than others, despite their similarly matched importance within Julie’s life. However, when it comes to such a subjective story as this one, battling the ever-changing emotions which run circles around a single person’s mind, the film feels as if it benefits greatly from an appreciation of individual scenes rather than a conclusive storyline, especially when some of these moments are as impactful as they are.
‘The Worst Person in the World’ is absolutely a film which will impact viewers differently depending on where they are in their lives, and whilst it may not receive the most widespread release here in the UK, if you get a chance to see it at your local cinema, I’d definitely recommend giving it a go.