‘The Worst Person In The World’ Movie Review: Subversion Of Rom-Com Tropes That Drags Occasionally
The Worst Person In The World, directed by Joachim Trier, is funny, poignant, and visually engaging, but as a whole, this slice-of-life look at a young woman in Oslo’s turbulent life and relationships sometimes delivers one too many dry chapters that don’t live up to its excellent beginning.
The film’s main stars Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie both deliver great performances here as medical school dropout Julie and her well-known comic artist boyfriend Aksel, who is many years her senior. The two have sweet, quiet chemistry that’s a clear departure from the cliche romantic-comedy fireworks you usually see, and there’s a lot to like about this pared-back, realistic depiction of a relationship growing onscreen.
None of the characters are the worst people in the world, but a strength of the script is that most of them seem like real, flawed humans you would encounter throughout your life. The film’s prologue is a great example of this, which introduces us to Julie up until she meets Aksel, and shows her flitting between jobs and boys in a frantic and fun montage after having an epiphany during a medical school surgery.
It is structured into 12 chapters each with charming titles, along with a prologue and epilogue, and this device helps move time along for characters in an engaging fashion. The sectioned-off chapter format sometimes leaves side characters by the wayside in a way that, while it may be realistic to peoples’ lives, isn’t particularly interesting to watch develop over a two-hour runtime if we’re insulated with a couple of main characters and the rest just come and go.
Also, with the film’s first chapters being so strong, the ones at the end pale in comparison. There are a couple of more experimental visual sequences, including a mushrooms trip and another where Julie explores Oslo after freezing time, but these work against the subtle strengths of the movie by incorporating pretty painfully obvious visual metaphors to show internal issues that Renata Reinsve’s performance was already communicating very well. If more visual leaps were taken during the movie, these may have fit better, but the directing of the other chapters was much more naturalistic and didn’t hint at much experimentation at all.
The Worst Person In The World was at its best when it focused on subtle insights into the good and bad parts of relationships and has some truly beautiful and wild scenes where the script, performances, and Trier’s directing unite for some incredible results. It somewhat collapsed under its own weight of 12 chapters with forced experimental sequences, and one too many chapters that were a little dull.