What would happen if you could freeze time and run away, even just for a moment. To be able to take a break from life and live out your fantasy, even if it’s just for half a day. Joachim Trier’s newest film The Worst Person in the World does exactly that. The already iconic scene sees our protagonist Julie (Renate Reinsve) running through streets full of statue-esque strangers to find the one person she wants to see, the relief and joy at her temporary freedom radiates off of her.
Split into three acts and 12 chapters, the Norwegian film follows Julie as she turns 30 and tries to figure out who she is and what she wants from her life. It’s a film about finding meaning in the world while navigating love, relationships and failure.
Julie is fearless yet hesitant, held back by her situation and slowly realises she’s playing the supporting role in her own life (a feeling well reflected in society with the rise of Gen Z craving “main character energy”). Still a young woman, Julie resists how society tries to age her as she reaches the big 3-0. Despite pressure from her partner, she doesn’t want children right away, and maybe not at all, because she wants to do something with her life.
What that is, she doesn’t know. And she doesn’t need to know. The freedom to live a life free of having to make long-term commitments is becoming increasingly common among young women and seeing it reflected is empowering. It’s showing women that it’s okay to feel that way.
Directed by Joachim Trier, and starring Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie as Julie and Aksel, The Worst Person in the World is a film of immense talent and skill. Reinsve in particular is utterly enchanting. In some scenes her face captures a million emotions all at once, in others she entrances the audience with her charm. It would be hard for anyone to deny how much she deserved her Best Actress award at Cannes Film Festival.
Throughout the film, there are lines that come at you with such intense force they feel like a punch in the gut. Each one is so well crafted that, with just a few words, Trier and co-writer Eskil Vogt are able to sum up incredibly vast and complex feelings. Their deep understanding of the human condition clear with every scene they skillfully build.
The Worst Person in the World is the final in Trier’s (unplanned) Oslo trilogy – a trio of films set in the Norwegian capital that has been called a “Cinematic Masterpiece in Three Distinct Parts”. Each of the films reflects on similar subtle themes and feature Danielsen Lie (you could say he was Trier’s muse). To watch the films together is to see the life of a city and the development of a director.
To not see The Worst Person in the World would be to deprive yourself of an a truly great cinema experience. It’s a film that I can see staying in my mind for years to come alongside other greats from recent years. Do yourself the favour and buy a ticket.
The Worst Person in the World is out in UK cinemas from March 25
Featured image credit: MUBI