Review: The Worst Person in the World (2021 San Diego Film Festival)

Title: The Worst Person In The World
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Joachim Trier
Starring: Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie, Maria Grazia Di Meo
Runtime: 2 hr 7 mins

What It Is: We watch over four years the evolution of Julie’s (Renate Reinsve) love life, and her self-awareness of who she truly is. We witness as she has to navigate through the realization that who she is is not who she has been and where she is at is not where she wants to be. This is the last in Trier’s Oslo Trilogy (which starts with Reprise in 2006 and continued with Oslo, August 31st from 2011.)

What We Think: As dark as the cinematography that emulates through the film, as is the guilt Julie carries for simply wishing to find herself. The film is divided into 13 chapters, each one carrying a snapshot of her life. The prologue guides us to her history, her passions, and her confidence in changing her mind. Yet when she finds herself in one relationship that seems more mature than she is prepared for, she continuously doubts her exit.

She links herself to Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie) after a bout of singularity and meshes into his life passions and vision easily, an act most women can relate to. But like her educational path, she soon finds that what is considered wise in societal standards, doesn’t feel like living. Her guard drops and she meets Elvind (Herbert Nordrum) in a night of mutual attraction with limits. Their paths separate but the encounter leaves enough doubt in Julie’s mind that she begins the path of mentally separating from the consistently loving Aksel.

The story ebbs from there, Julie’s decisions based on her own personal emotions until she seems that she will implode from the pressure of making the safe choices. The story does well at asking whether safe choices are the right choices when we have only one life to lead.

Our Grade: B, The Worst Person in the World proves our worst enemy is our own expectations. Each chapter delves into Julie’s want to break free from the idea that she has to be everything for everyone, except herself. It was a deeply personal look at both the weight of youth, and female expectations in a world that reveres characters like Aksel and Eivind. Her perception that she wants to leave Aksel, arguably a good man, weighs on the idea that every decision must be made with a good partnership in mind rather than simply a change of life. The Worst Person in the World allows us perspective into the social construct that pushes women to consider their partner’s feelings before their own happiness, success, even flighty desires. The best part is not that Julie found happiness in herself at the end, but that there was not a grandiose need to explain it, which is exactly as it should be.

Reviewed by your Melanin Gifted Movie critic at the San Diego International Film Festival.