In 2018 we fell in love with Thelma by Joachim Trier during Film Fest Gent . So we were immediately curious about Trier’s new film, especially when we read that it is a modern rom-com. Both we and the audience of FFG were extremely charmed, because The Worst Person in the World won the audience award at the festival.
Julie (Renate Reinsve) hasn’t quite got her life together yet. Or at least not according to the expectations of her parents or society. As a student, she is not sure which direction she wants to go, so she tries medicine, psychology and photography. Also when it comes to love, she doesn’t limit herself to ‘one type’ and kisses a number of frogs.
A little later she finds stability in Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), a graphic novel author who is 15 years her senior. There is, however, a small gap in terms of life experience and goals. He would like to start having children soon, something Julie is not thinking about yet. Still, Julie is determined to make it work. Yet Julie’s resolve falters when she meets Eivind (Herbert Nordrum).
Not a girl, not yet a woman (#BritneyIsFree!)
Screenwriters Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt have brought the concept of the rom-com nicely to the present with The Worst Person in the World . One of the most popular cinema genres of the 1990s and early 2000s remains largely under the radar of the general public to this day, with outliers such as Crazy Rich Asians and the To All the Boys trilogy. Those films focus on the main character, where a partner is part of her life, just like her career and other relationships.
The Worst Person in the World also combines romantic comedy with a coming-of-age story. That’s why not one man necessarily crosses her path here, and we see how all the people in Julie’s life influence her. Love for and acceptance of oneself, self-confidence, daring and vulnerability are all qualities that the right people can help shape at the right times. Or just not.
And well, maybe we just like to see people fall in love. Especially people like actress Renate Reinsve, who is almost certainly on the way to a major international career. You can always sympathize with Julie, even if she makes wrong or stupid choices. She jumps off the screen, and gets good support from especially Anders Danielsen Lie. His interpretation also remains.
In addition to the concept, Trier also plays with the form of this romcom. From the moment she gets to know Aksel, Julie’s journey begins. The film is divided into chapters, with a prologue and an epilogue. The screenplay makes inventive use of that design. Not to nicely round out every part of her life, but to highlight both the “important” and the small moments, such as when Julie finds inspiration to write or take magic mushrooms with friends. They often show how someone changes or grows. And they make the emotional knocks, because there certainly are, that much more meaningful.
It doesn’t have to be all too traditional either, and sometimes Trier reverts to some surrealistic elements. For example, Julie stops time around her when she makes a certain important choice, so that it really is the center of the world for a while. The magic mushroom scene is also very trippy, and not because of used tampons. Add to all those ingredients a fresh and clear cinematography and jazzy/romantic score and you get something special. Life is messy, but The Worst Person in the World works on all fronts.