The Worst Person in the World (2022)
Directed by Joachim Trier
Starring Renate Reinsve, Anders Danielsen Lie and Herbert Nordrum
The Worst Person in the World isn’t about the actual worst person in the world, it’s about a character who thinks they are. And why shouldn’t she? She’s frustrating, careless, inconsiderate, deceitful, impulsive, selfish, untrustworthy and, most of all, unhappy.
On any given day, I believe anyone can embody these characteristics; we just don’t embody them with the same flair as Julie from Oslo, played by Renate Reinsve. As the lead character in this excellent film, we root for Julie while shaking our heads at her choices in life. It takes a good actress acting from a good script to pull off this emotional tandem, and Reinsve does it convincingly.
Reinsve’s performance is buoyed by two other good actors, Anders Danielsen Lie and Herbert Nordrum, both of whom play men that are very important in Julie’s life. They each help her in different ways: one with cool-kid stoicism and the other with eager passion.
Speaking of “different ways,” the structure of this film is “different” than most. It’s broken up into a prologue, twelve chapters and an epilogue. The success of this unique format is a testament to director Joachim Trier and scriptwriting partner Eskil Vogt. Each chapter zips us through this two-hour film and, once the credits rolled, I wished there had been another twelve chapters detailing Julie’s life… and more of the lives that she would inevitably change forever.
With a great title like The Worst Person in the World, I made sure to stay away from reviews or thoughts from my fellow critics. Achieving this state of “Optimum Immersion” made for such a delightful experience that I will not detail the plot any further in this review. Instead, I will say that The Worst Person in the World is a very human story about humans just being humans. There is something we can all relate to, but that is especially true for Gen X and our love of “things”. In fact, there’s a scene Lie’s character examines questions like “what was it all for” in a way that left me raw and speechless. I felt seen. Did the director know my own experiences? Was this film made just to set me on a path of appreciation for life and experience over prestige and possessions? Probably not, but it sure felt that way.
Trier and Vogt have four other films to their credit – Reprise (2006), Oslo, August 31st (2011), Louder Than Bombs (2015) and Thelma (2017) – and I hope all four live up to the high standards set by The Worst Person In the World, which earns an “A” grade from me.