Grab a rock, chuck it across a field, and you’re more than likely to hit a coming-of-age movie. This subgenre in cinema has been used to deliver a poignant lesson about life, love, death, and loss. I’m a sucker for these types of films, although not all of them do well. Fortunately, Norwegian film director Joachim Trier gave us The Worst Person in the World to fill our coming-of-age need and this dark romantic comedy-drama should definitely be on many people’s watchlists.
The Worst Person in the World directed by Trier—who also handles writing duties with Eskil Vogt—follows Julie played by Renate Reinsve. The modern-day story took me on a journey with Julie’s arch through relationships that would affect her personality negatively and positively to help shape her character. Now, that seems SUPER vague but if you really think about it, that’s how we function in our everyday lives. The film hard focuses on the lead character and helps make her voyage much more relatable and realistic.
From the top, the acting in The Worst Person in the World is absolutely astounding. Reinsve’s performance is what really sells the movie and Askel, played by Anders Danielsen Lie, helps elevate the story. I felt a connection with Julie’s need to keep changing careers, hopping through life, and learning from topics that cover dating, children, father issues, and death. We’ve all been in that part of our lives where we’re given the pieces on how to live a functional existence, but it’s our job to find out what puzzle pieces fit and what needs to be thrown out. Reinsve exemplifies some flippant traits, raw emotions, and actions that can be compared to Millennials and even Gen-Xers.
Lie’s performance as Askel is something that needs to be noticed as well. I started slightly annoyed by his character’s lack of direction but later understood where he was coming from as the story progressed. The dynamic between Julie and Askel brings up an interesting statement on “love”. The two go through the highs and pitfalls of being in a relationship and even go beyond that. At one point during the film, the writing takes a turn when the concept of death is brought up. This is when an intense conversation between the two occur and had me in tears because it tapped into my questions about mortality and legacy.
Trier’s directing allows the movie to have these moments of subtle beauty in the background that were not made only to affect his audience but the characters as well. In doing so, The Worst Person in the World had bridged a gap between the film and myself that brought me into the story and synced my feelings with the character at that exact moment. A great example of this occurs between Jules and Eivind, played by Herbert Nordrum. +
It’s a moment when the film’s world becomes still and these two express the idea of a loving relationship that could’ve been done in a typical bombastic way. What Trier does is direct the actors to basically live in that special moment and lets characters command the scene.
The scene that follows is an example of great writing from Trier and Vogt.
Julie and Askel must examine their relationship that stands far and away from any over-dramatic dialogue. Instead, the scene comes off from real-life experience that in turn, is something that helps the movie make an emotional statement about “ripping the band-aid off” a relationship that’s reached its logical end.
I didn’t really know what I was getting into with The Worst Person in the World before watching the movie. All I heard at the time is that the film was an emotional ride and Trier’s latest project did not disappoint. Reinsve and Lie do a top-tier level performance and the writing from Trier and Vogt is a gateway to finding their past and future work. The movie has stayed with me for several days and I don’t think it’ll ever leave. That is what I look for in coming-of-age stories and this team has hit the mark—hands down.