The Worst Person in the World (2021) Film Review A

“The Worst Person in the World” boasts three superb performances.

Prologue. Chapter 1: The Others Chapter 2: Cheating Chapter 3: Oral Sex in the Age of #MeToo Chapter 4: Our Family Chapter 5: Bad Timing Chapter 6: Finnmark Highlands Chapter 7: A New Chapter Chapter 8: Julie’s Narcissistic Circus Chapter 9: Bobcat Wrecks Xmas Chapter 10: First Person Singular Chapter 11: Positive Chapter 12: Everything Comes to an End. Epilogue.

The third film in director Joachim Trier’s “Oslo Trilogy” following “Reprise” (2006) and “Oslo, August 31” (2011). Actor Anders Danielsen Lee has appeared in all three films.

The Worst Person in the World


Julie: Renate Reinsve

Aksel: Anders Danielsen Lee

Eivind: Herbert Nordrum

Let’s start with Kierkegaard.

Wasn’t Kierkegaard once said, “We can only understand life backward, but we’re forced to live it forward”? In his fifth film, “The Worst Person in the World,” Oslo-based director Joachim Trier takes this maxim and runs with it ingeniously as we are introduced to Julie (Renata Reinsve), who is pushing thirty and stuck in a rut both emotionally and professionally.

12 Chapters, a Prologue, and an Epilogue.

The film’s separate chapters allow Trier, who wrote the script with his longtime collaborator Eskil Vogt, to move fluidly in time, pausing to observe Julie and the two men in her life: Aksel (Anders Danielsen Lee), a successful cartoonist, about 15 years her senior, and Eivind (Herbert Nordrum) a barista around her age.

The Worst Person in the World

Brilliantly Constructed Prologue.

In the brilliantly constructed prologue, we are taken on a whirlwind tour:

1) from Julie as a medical student with a boyfriend.

2) Julie is now single, studying psychology, and having an affair with her professor.

3) Julie is now interested in photography and working in a bookstore.

4) Julie is meeting and moving in with Aksel.

The Dreaded Unreliable Narrator.

The rapidly unfolding story is also narrated in the third person by an older woman (actress Ine Jansen) who allows us a little insight into Julie’s mind even if you also suspect that, in her brief and fleeting voice-overs, she could be the dreaded unreliable narrator!

Chapter 1: The Others.

Although Julie and Aksel initially appear happy, their age difference constantly intrudes. Aksel wants children, while Julie is hesitant at this point in her life. The “to have or have not” question is used to comedic effect in Chapter One (The Others) when Julie and Aksel spend the weekend at the home of Aksel’s brother. Children abound. One of them, a screaming little brat, attaches herself to Julie’s leg and will not let go! You can see the gears turning in Julie’s head.

The Worst Person in the World

Chapter 2: Cheating.

For me, the movie’s two most beautiful and cinematic chapters concerned Julie and Eivind. In Chapter 2 (Cheating), Julie leaves a party in honor of Aksel and walks through the streets of Oslo at dusk. As she walks, the camera follows her and Trier, cutting from a Julie’s POV shot to a medium-close-up of her face, subtly conveying how miserable she is (the result is something akin to Diane Lane in “Unfaithful”). With nothing to do, she crashes a stranger’s wedding, where she almost immediately hits it off with a pleasant young man named Eivind with a nice smile. Because both are in a relationship, they have no physical contact. However, their scenes together are very sexy.

Chapter 5: Bad Timing.

Then, in Chapter 5 (Bad Timing), time (and people, cars, and the entire world) stands still as Julie leaves Aksel, frozen in the kitchen as he pours her a cup of coffee and runs through the streets of daytime Oslo. She stops by the coffee shop for the unfrozen Eivind, and the two climb to the hills above Oslo, where they spend the night and watch the sunrise.

The Worst Person in the World

Julie belittles Eivind.

As the movie evolves through its final chapters, it becomes somber, and Julie becomes increasingly insular and cruel. There is one scene in Chapter 10 (First person Singular) where Julie belittles Eivind, which is very harsh. Not least because Eivind is a genuinely likable character, both men are more agreeable than Julie, and, in many ways, she does not deserve them.

Life Goes On.

Trier ends on a sad note, but at least for two of the three main characters, life goes on. In addition to the extraordinary work of Trier and Reinsve, the supporting work by Danielsen Lie and Nordrum is impeccable, and Oslo – efficient, clean, and people-friendly Oslo and the movie’s fourth central character – is captured beautifully by cinematographer Jakob Ihre. Essential viewing.



Popular Articles

There Was A Crooked Man (1970) Film Review    B+

There Was A Crooked Man (1970) Film Review B+

Hume Cronyn and John Randolph are our happy and well-adjusted gay couple. Yes, they fight and bicker all the time. However, they are clearly madly in love with each other.

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) Film Review  A+

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) Film Review A+

In “Kind Hearts and Coronets”: Alec Guinness has fun playing all eight (or nine) of the unfortunate D’Ascoynes, including Lady Agatha D’Ascoyne. The photograph shows Dennis Price with Joan Greenwood who plays that little minx Sibella.

Subscribe for the latest reviews right in your inbox!