DVD review: “The Worst Person in the World” (2021)

“The Worst Person in the World” (2021)

Drama

Running Time: 110 minutes

Written by: Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier

Directed by: Joachim Trier

Featuring: Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie and Herbert Nordrum

Narrator: “She said she was terrified of being alone. Terrified of living without him. That when she left, she’d be like Bambi on the ice. And that was precisely why she had to do it. Aksel mumbled soothing words she didn’t hear. She was thinking about how, at the age of 30, she’d just compared herself to Bambi.”

Released last year was one of the best Foreign films of the year in “The Worst Person in the World” (2021) which was nominated for two Oscars for Best Foreign Film and Best Screenplay, sadly not winning either. This film is sweet and gentle and funny, in ways that are undoubtedly conventional but also very real. It’s the kind of film we’ve all seen done so badly that it’s an unexpected treat to see it done well and to realise that its themes are very important. It is also the third film in the director’s Oslo Trilogy, following “Reprise” (2006) and “Oslo, August 31st” (2011).

“The Worst Person in the World” is based around Julie who is a medical student in Oslo who transfers to psychology and then photography. In her late 20s, she starts a relationship with Aksel Willman, a comic artist 15 years older than her. Now dabbling in writing, she spends a weekend with Aksel at his parents’ house. Aksel floats the idea of starting a family with Julie, but Julie is uncertain. While walking home from a publishing event for Aksel, Julie crashes a wedding reception and meets Eivind, a barista. Though both are in relationships, they spend the night together sharing jokes and intimacies, but without sexual relations. They exchange only their first names and part ways. This is of course a great set up for a film and from here the story picks up with some excellent performances as well as some very good storytelling, I will give no spoilers.

Joachim Trier is the Norwegian director who has over the years directed some very interesting films including the disturbing telekinesis thriller “Thelma” (2017) and the already mentioned and challenging drug-addiction drama “Oslo, August 31st”. Working with his longtime screenwriter Eskil Vogt, he has discomfited his audiences, jolted them and shocked them into realising they aren’t here for an easy ride. With “The Worst Person in the World” both Trier and Vogt have given us something truly shocking a tender relationship comedy with a wonderful freshness, that will leave audiences with a tear in their eye. Trier has taken on one of the most difficult genres, the romantic drama something many have attempted which normally devolves into trope laden and formula driven storylines, however not with Trier who injects the “The Worst Person in the World” with some originality and some very biting humour with a touch of realness to keep it all grounded.

In the lead is Renate Reinsve who takes on the lead role of Julie and proves she is someone to watch closely as just one of a number of Scandinavian actors to have surfaced in the past fifteen years. There are two sensational set-pieces: one when she finally plucks up the courage to tell Aksel she is leaving him, and the whole world goes into freeze-frame while she runs through the Oslo streets to find Eivind and kiss him. The second comes when she takes shrooms with Eivind and his friends, an absolute showstopper of a drug-hallucination dream sequence in which Julie finally confronts her deadbeat estranged dad.

“The Worst Person in the World” is definitely very conventional especially for filmmaker Joachim Trier, but it ties itself all together by keeping it as socially real as possible. Not only that it does address some very real issues that cover how life unfolds and what it’s like looking for someone to share it with. It is all undercut by some very good performances especially from Renate Reinsve who is fantastic. If you have not seen this film you should put it on top of your watch list and it would make a handsome addition to nay collection.

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