The Worst Person in the World (2021)

Story of a young woman who finds herself in a constant state of existential crisis

6/20/20234 min read

Norwegian, 128 minutes, 2021

Director: Joachim Trier

Cast: Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, Herbert Nordrum and others

Awards ;Nomination, Palme d’Or, Cannes Film Festival, 2021; Best actress, Cannes Film festival, 2021; Nominated for Best Screenplay and Best actress, European film Awards, 2021; Best foreign language Film, New York Film Critics circle, 2021, etc.

The film starts to get interesting only after Julie (Renate Reinsve) is told that her earlier boyfriend, Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie) is suffering from Pancreatic cancer. And that’s pretty late in the movie. She is working in a bookstore then and visits him in hospital and from there onwards film actually explores the complexities of human relations. The story revolves around Julie, a young woman in her late twenties who finds herself in a constant state of existential turmoil. Julie is shown talented but aimless and unsure of her own desires and ambitions.

Julie meets Aksel, a comic book artist and developer of character Bobcat, when she isn’t even thirty and studying to be a doctor. Not liking the course, she shifts into psychology. Soon she wants to be a photographer and leaves psychology. When she meets Aksel, he is in his forties and he actually is not comfortable with their huge age difference. Yet they stick on and start liking each other. Aksel then gets Julie to one of his family get-togethers and confides to having children with Julie. She is not sure about having children at this stage and they have a minor argument.

During one of the publishing events, Julie leaves event midway and gate-crashes into another party where she meets Eivind (Herbert Nordrum), a barista. They just talk and depart without sharing their details of whereabouts. By now, Julie is working in a bookstore and is somewhat bored with Aksel since he is busy with his stuff. A chance visit to the bookstore by Eivind with his wife reignites their romance and eventually Julie leaves Aksel to stay with Eivind. Eivind separates from his climate activist wife and starts living with Julie.

Soon Julie gets pregnant and is completely unsure about her motherhood. A chance reading of an article by Eivind, written and discarded by Julie earlier, creates a tension between them and relationship is never the same. This is where film gets into gear when Julie learns through Aksel’s brother in law that Aksel is suffering from Cancer.

The film is third in the series of 'Oslo trilogy' by director Joachim Trier, after the first one ‘Reprise’ (2006) and then ‘Oslo, August 31st' (made in 2011, also reviewed by this website). In the earlier part of this film, there are some good scenes like when Julie reveals that she wants separation from Aksel. The scene is written well, filmed well and acted well by both the actors. "The Worst Person in the World" delves into the complexities of modern relationships, examining the highs and lows, the triumphs and disappointments. The interactions between Julie and her various partners are depicted with remarkable authenticity, shedding light on the messiness and unpredictability of love. The chemistry between the actors feels genuine, further enhancing the emotional depth of the film.

But what comes through as a constant force is Renate Reinsve’s performance as Julie. She is superb. Stunningly beautiful in looks, measured when needed on screen and highly expressive when demanded by screenplay, she shines throughout the film. Renate Reinsve delivers a captivating performance, perfectly capturing the character's mix of vulnerability and insecurity. Her portrayal is nuanced and relatable, making it easy for the audience to empathize with Julie's struggles and inner conflicts. No wonder then, that she won the best actress award at Cannes Film festival, 2021. The film itself was nominated for ‘Palme d’Or’ prize. She went on to get nominated for best actress award in lot of other film festivals and annual film awards like European Film Awards, L.A. Film Critics Association Awards (runner up), Seattle film critics society, etc.

Joachim Trier's direction is skillful and deliberate, showcasing his keen eye for visual storytelling. He effortlessly transitions between intimate moments and sweeping landscapes, capturing the essence of Oslo and infusing the film with a vibrant energy. The screenplay, written by Trier and Eskil Vogt, is a masterclass in character development and dialogue. The script never shies away from tackling existential questions, ultimately encouraging the audience to reflect on their own lives and choices. Overall, "The Worst Person in the World" is a must-watch for those seeking a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant film.

About the director, Joachim Trier

Born in March 1974 in Denmark, Joachim Trier, comes from a distinguished family of film enthusiasts. His father, Jacob Trier, was a sound technician and his grandfather, Erik Lochen, was the artistic director of ‘Norsk Film’, a Norwegian Film production company, from 1981 to 1983.

He studied film at European film college, Ebeltoft, Denmark and at the National Film and Television School in United Kingdom. His debut Film ‘Reprise’(2006), the first in his series of ‘Oslo Trilogy’, received Norway’s top film award (Amanda Award) at home and won many international film festival awards at Istanbul, Milan, Karlovy Vary and at Rotterdam. In 2007, he was named among ‘Top 10 directors to watch’. His second film ‘Oslo, August 31st ‘ too was premiered in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ category of Cannes Film Festival, 2011 and went on to win lot of critics’ circle awards. His third feature, an English language Film, ‘Louder than Bombs’ (2015) was included in competition section for ‘Palme d’Or’ of Cannes Film festival, 2015.

Joachim’s present film was nominated for two Academy awards, has won 43 awards and 102 nominations in total at various film festivals and annual film awards in various countries. He was also the Jury President of ‘Semaine de la critique’, called ‘Critics’ Week’ in English, a parallel section to the Cannes Film festival organized by the ‘French Syndicate of Cinema Critics’ which promotes the new talent in cinema by showcasing first and second feature films by various directors across the world.