The worst person in the world (R21)
127 minutes, opens February 24 exclusively at the Projector, 4 stars
As the saying goes, Julie tries to live, laugh and love.
This has not been easy. By following her compulsions, this citizen of Oslo, Norway fears becoming a caricature of the privileged Westerner – she has become delusional, demanding and destructive. Could she be the worst person in the world?
The opening scene gives a quick sketch of Julie (Norwegian actress Renate Reinsve in a stellar performance), a person with conflicting impulses born into a middle-class family. In college, she can throw out one class in favor of another in the blink of an eye. And she takes the same approach with boyfriends.
A few years later, Julie seems to have found stability. She lives with graphic novelist Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lie). She hopes to become a writer. Soon she feels the tug again – she must find her authentic self, even if it means destroying everything she has built.
In this dry comedy about growing up believing it’s possible to be – or have anything – Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier explores the idea of individual freedom as it applies to a ordinary person and invites the public to judge him.
The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best International Feature Film and Best Original Screenplay. At the Cannes Film Festival, Reinsve won the Best Actress award.
Julie is not damaged by trauma, nor paralyzed by doubt or anxiety. This sets her apart from recent fictional women, like the lead character Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the British comedy series Fleabag (2016 to 2019), who say extraordinarily bad choices must have an extraordinary source of suffering.
Julie’s troubled relationship with her parents might explain or even excuse her behavior, but Trier never makes a direct connection, so she can never completely ignore responsibility for her actions.