The fallacy of youth restlessness is easy to forget once it’s in the rearview mirror. It’s possible to be unsure of what you want, but also not know what it is. No matter how romantically portrayed, becoming who you are doesn’t require a linear, coherent path. It’s messy and chaotic with many casualties.
Julie, who is 29 and close to 30, is the woman at Joachim Trier’s ” the Worst Person In the World” heart. We only discover this when we see her in a black slipdress alone at the party’s edge. Julie, played by Renate Reinsve is a picture of cool glamour with her hair in a casually elegant ponytail. It almost seems like the end of something. It will soon be revealed that it is. But not in the way we were conditioned to expect. This moment occurs in 12 chapters, with an epilogue and prologue.
Julie is already making big decisions when we visit her life. She’s changed from studying psychology to medicine, and has had a few flings while experimenting with different hairstyles and clothing styles. It’s funny to see her trying on different versions. Things slow down a little when she meets Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie), a mid-40s comic book artist.
After a night of being together, he told her to stop. He said that their age differences would become a problem. That he has entered a new stage in his life, and that she must still find herself. He explains that they are both in danger of being hurt. She falls in love with him immediately and soon takes over his apartment’s closets and bookshelves, while “The Way You Look Tonight” plays in the background. This feels like normal life for a while. She gets a job at a bookstore, and she writes an online piece. But something is wrong.
This script was written by Trier and Eskil Vogt and has a refreshing honesty. It engages with nuance as well as the unimaginable complexities of life in an approach that many “rom-coms” avoid. It is clear that Aksel was correct from the start. It is also clear that they keep going even after the story ends. For example, when Aksel discovers they are at an impasse on the subject of children and the reality of spending weekends with their friends who have children. She sees having a baby as the end of something she isn’t ready for. He sees it as a new beginning. Both are right, and both are wrong. Because life is messy, she crashes a party and meets Eivind (Herbert Nordrum). She is then reminded that there are interesting strangers out there and that life is not as simple as it seems.
This party, which is gross on paper, but charming in execution, in which Julie, Eivind, and their partner spend a night together not cheating on their partners, is one of many particularly inspired sequences in “The Worst People in the World.” Another is Julie’s time stop scene, in which she jogs through Oslo while pausing. This is not a joke. There are still surprises in the film, such as a scene with Aksel in a park, long after their breakup, where he contemplates his four and a quarter decades.
One of the most beautiful things about this film, although it could have been quite niche, is how universally loved it has become. Everyone can see themselves in “The Worst Person in the World,” regardless of whether they are in their 20s. It is a reminder of how cinema can break through even without “movie stars” nor franchise opportunities.
By the way, the film has an ending, and it’s a satisfying one. It’s not the end. It was important to mention.
The Motion Picture Association of America has rated “The Worst Person In the World” as R for “sexual content and graphic nuance.” It is available in theaters Friday. Running time: 128 min. Four stars out four.