The Worst Person in the World concludes Joachim Trier’s Oslo trilogy in sheer delight with a clever, complex, and beguiling story about how our identity is attached to the relationships we make in life — refined by both desire and heartache.
Joachim Trier manages to surprise us with the way he approaches his films. All of them have a unique factor while capturing references in a new light in the background. However, it all goes back to one thing at its core: portraits of identity and intimacy. The only film of his that has gotten a bit of slack for its reprisal of memories, different versions of life, and dreams was Louder Than Bombs, which I quite like for the same reasons it gets criticized. After a four-year roundup, Trier is back to conclude his famed Oslo trilogy with what may be his best film to date: The Worst Person in the World.
Julie (Renate Reinsve), a grade-A student approaching 30 years old, dropped out of pre-med and is on her way to find a new venture, either professional or romantic, as she goes through her roaring twenties. Her different relationships have been an emotional hassle, and she is learning what to do with her life. This is the story of a woman who is struggling with her persona.
Told in 12 distinct chapters, with a prologue and epilogue, and set during four years of Julie’s life, it focuses on crucial moments while she navigates to self-discovery and forges a relationship along the way. Cheating, a hallucinatory mushroom trip, father issues, children, you name it; each question and thought that has popped into your mind as you grow up is here. Because of that, the film is much more relatable than most romantic comedies in recent memory, albeit it isn’t only that; there’s more than meets the eye to the titular “worst person in the world.” Although, in fairness, the title of this movie doesn’t do justice for its lead character.
Sure, not all decisions she makes are good ones, but aren’t we all like that? That anxiousness of not knowing what to do with your life makes you take many different paths though you do not know where they will lead. So, a comparison with Noah Baumbach’s France Ha (2012) seems right up its alley; both leads are pretty similar. Nevertheless, in both the saddest and happiest moments, Trier does what Baumbach doesn’t: write his central character to feel relatable and genuine. I have not reached the age at which Julie’s journey in this film begins, but there is still that minor touch that makes me relate to her a lot.
That feeling of not knowing what to do after you finish college or questioning your relationship. Many can agree that they have passed through these issues a couple of times in their lives. The echoes of finding your own identity are loud and clear, and they crash into your mind on the daily — that must have been what Julie felt during those years. Once again, Trier proves that he can effortlessly create stories that mirror your reality in some way or another. There are no words to describe Renate Reinsve’s performance other than immaculate, utterly beautiful, and elegant. The writing garners those same adjectives. The Worst Person in the World touches your heart and gives you hope that everything will be alright in the future.
Hector Gonzalez is a Puerto Rican chemical engineering student and film critic with a great passion for cinema, award shows, 1960s music, and the horror genre. Some of his favorite films are RAW, Eyes Without a Face, and The Green Ray.